Preference Reversals and the Measurement of Environmental Values
15 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2009
Date Written: January 1, 1993
Numerous studies have demonstrated that theoretically equivalent measures of preference, such as choices and prices, can lead to systematically different preference orderings, known as preference reversals. Two major causes of preference reversals are the compatibility effect and the prominence effect. The present studies demonstrate that the combined effects of prominence and compatibility lead to predictable preference reversals in settings where improvements in air quality are compared with improvements in consumer commodities by two methods - willingness to pay for each improvement and choice (For which of the two improvements would you pay more? Which improvement is more valuable to you?). Willingness to pay leads to relatively greater preference for improved commodities; choice leads to relatively greater preference for improved air quality. These results extend the domain of preference reversals and pose a challenge to traditional theories of preference. At the applied level, these findings indicate the need to develop new methods for valuing environmental resources.
Keywords: behavioral economics, preference reversals, decision making, context effects, environmental values, compatibility, willingness to pay
JEL Classification: C91, D12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation