Desire, moral evaluation or sense of duty: The modal framing of stated preference elicitation

Environmental Values (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Contingent valuation surveys generally elicit stated preferences by asking how much a respondent would be willing to pay for an environmental improvement. By drawing on linguistic theory, we propose that the modal phrasing of this question establishes a particular type of commitment towards a hypothetical payment, namely a subjective want or desire. Based on the idea that beyond subjective desires, considerations about what is morally adequate may guide expressed values and that elicitation of these can be linguistically facilitated, we employ an experimental framework to investigate the effects of different modals ( willing, should and appropriate) in the elicitation question on stated preferences. We find that elicited amounts with appropriate are higher than those elicited with willing and should for environmental improvements more associated with use values, while differences are non-significant for environmental improvements more associated with non-use values. We discuss the implications of our findings for stated preference studies, as well as the potential broader theoretical implications that our study entails regarding linguistic representations of the moral entrenchment of environmental values.

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Author Profiles

Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde
Institut Jean Nicod
Alda Mari
Institut Jean Nicod

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