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When do social cues and scientific information affect stated preferences? Insights from an experiment on air pollution

Abstract : Stated preference surveys are usually carried out in one session, without any follow-up interview after respondents have had the opportunity to experience the public goods or policies they were asked to value. Consequently, a stated preference survey needs to be designed so as to provide respondents with all the relevant information, and to help them process this information so they can perform the valuation exercise properly. In this paper, we study experimentally an elicitation procedure in which respondents are provided with a sequence of different types of information (social cues and objective information) that allows them to sequentially revise their willingness-to-pay (WTP) values. Our experiment was carried out in large groups using an electronic voting system which allows us to construct social cues in real time. To analyse the data, we developed an anchoring-type structural model that allows us to estimate the direct effect (at the current round) and the indirect effect (on subsequent rounds) of information. Our results shed new light on the interacted effect of social cues and objective information: social cues have little or no direct effect on WTP values but they have a strong indirect effect on how respondents process scientific information. Social cues have the most noticeable effect on respondents who initially report a WTP below the group average but only after receiving additional objective information about the valuation task. We suggest that the construction and the provision of social cues should be added to the list of tools and controls for stated preference methods.
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Dominique Ami, Frédéric Aprahamian, Olivier Chanel, Stephane Luchini. When do social cues and scientific information affect stated preferences? Insights from an experiment on air pollution. Journal of Choice Modelling, 2018, 29, pp.33 - 46. ⟨10.1016/j.jocm.2018.09.001⟩. ⟨hal-01897065⟩

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