alexa The structure of motivation for contingent values: a case study of lake water quality improvement


Journal of Socialomics

Author(s): Philip Cooper

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Critics of the contingent valuation (CV) method have argued that individuals apply ‘‘noneconomic’’ motives in responding to CV questions, implying that elicited values are not valid measures of the economic benefit of environmental improvement. This study examines the role of such motives by using measures of attitude and motive strength to interpret willingness-to-pay (WTP) values for a set of nested environmental goods with potential use and nonuse benefits. Motivational structure is found to be more complex than suggested by the simple distinction between valid economic – theoretic and ‘‘noneconomic’’ motives. Social motivations possibly associated with the benefit of contributing to a public good rather than the benefits of the good itself are potentially relevant to the WTP decision but do not give rise to separable values. The strength of perceived personal responsibility for provision of the good is significantly associated with WTP but also with the theoretically desirable property of enhanced scope sensitivity. WTP is not found to be associated with the extent to which the individual feels under some general moral obligation to contribute to ‘‘good causes’’. Motives arising from ethical concerns for the environment and altruism are also potentially relevant to WTP but are closely related to underlying motives associated with existence and personal use values, respectively. It is suggested that the CV debate should be informed by further empirical investigation of the extent to which motives for WTP can be treated as separable

This article was published in Ecological Economics and referenced in Journal of Socialomics

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