Developing Conjoint Stated Preference Methods for Valuation of Environmental Resources Within Their Ecological Context

EPA Grant Number: R824709
Title: Developing Conjoint Stated Preference Methods for Valuation of Environmental Resources Within Their Ecological Context
Investigators: Opaluch, James J. , Swallow, Stephen K.
Institution: University of Rhode Island
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1995 through September 1, 1997
Project Amount: $125,972
RFA: Valuation and Environmental Policy (1995) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


This research will develop methods for valuing environmental resources within a complex context. The proposed research will evaluate methods to address these challenges through two avenues of research: (1) the usefulness of valuation methods that do not rely exclusively on money-measures of value, (2) the potential to extend available methods of resource valuation when individuals face cognitive limits. The methods of "conjoint analysis" provide a means to address these avenues of research in cases where economic analysis relies upon stated preferences of individuals

The principle objectives of the proposed project are: (1) to test and to compare alternative means of estimating relative values of natural resources using conjoint analysis and to implement and to test measurement of monetary values using conjoint analysis, (2) to use conjoint analysis to develop and test models of human preferences that recognize resource values are dependent upon the ecological context, (3) to expand the neoclassical economic basis of conjoint analysis to consider concepts such as strength of preference indicators, fuzzy logic, effects of complexity and ambivalence theory, and (4) to develop and to test alternative survey methods for measuring values within the context of the issues raised in objectives 1 through 3.

The proposed project will address theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges to reliable and valid estimation of environmental values by focusing on the potential of conjoint analysis as a method of valuation that does not rely exclusively on translating values into monetary terms. This research will address challenges both within the context of the neoclassical economic paradigm, as well as within the context of extensions of the neoclassical paradigm, such as ambivalence theory, decision heuristics and "fuzzy preferences". This study will produce new guidance for the use of conjoint in environmental valuation.

The project will evaluate the theoretical and empirical value of information from strength of preference ratings scales using concepts of fuzzy math. Various methodological issues regarding value elicitation will be explored, including the development of survey instruments based on tools such as interactive multimedia computer presentations, that may facilitate an individuals cognitive assessment of a valuation task. Empirical assessments of these theoretical and methodological considerations will be conducted using methods like focus groups and other cognitive interview methods, such as verbal protocols. This research is expected to offer improvements for appropriate frameworks to assess and quantify public preferences and values for ecological resources.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology and Ecosystems, decision-making, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, contingent valuation, ecosystem valuation, human welfare, policy analysis, risk assessment, social psychology, surveys, deliberative policy, social impact analysis, valuation, dichotomous-choice, decision analysis, valuing environmental quality, property values, environmental assets, cognitive limits, economic incentives, environmental values, information dissemination, preference formation, standards of value, environmental policy, community-based, models, psychological attitudes, public values, multi-criteria, public policy, stated preference, interviews, fuzzy logic, conjoint analysis, cost effectiveness

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • Final