Assessing Preferences for Environmental Decisions with Long-Term Consequences

EPA Grant Number: R826611
Title: Assessing Preferences for Environmental Decisions with Long-Term Consequences
Investigators: Keller, Robin , Eppel, Thomas
Current Investigators: Keller, Robin , Guyse, Jeffery L. , Biswas, Dipayan , Strazzera, Elisabetta , Eppel, Thomas
Institution: University of California - Irvine
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: July 1, 1998 through June 30, 2000 (Extended to July 31, 2001)
Project Amount: $181,851
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


The main objectives of the proposed study are
  • to apply decision analysis, in particular multi-attribute utility analysis to examine time preferences;
  • to expand previous research on discount rates for monetary consequences to non- monetary consequences (e.g., environmental impacts);
  • to conduct experimental studies to find out what factors have an impact on monetary and non-monetary discount rates;
  • to cross-validate the experimental results with a study of professional analysts;
  • to develop sound assessment procedures that will help policy makers in the determination of appropriate discount factors.


Methods of multi-attribute utility analysis will be used to design questions about basic tradeoffs between consequences that occur at different points in time and differ along a variety of other dimensions, such as monetary vs. non-monetary consequences, risky vs. riskless consequences, gains vs. losses, etc. Previous research has shown that all of these factors potentially impact revealed preferences and are therefore also potential determinants of discount rates. These factors will be systematically manipulated in a series of experiments, along with at least two different methods to assess time preferences (choice vs. matching). The main results will form the basis for a cross-validation study using professional analysts that are confronted with large-scale decision problems.

Expected Results:

We expect that the results of the proposed experiments and field observations will provide the EPA and other agencies with important insights about the nature and assessment of preferences about time-sensitive consequences. In particular, we expect that the substantive results as well as the development of sound methodologies to assess discount rates for monetary as well as non-monetary consequences will be of immediate benefit in the evaluation of policies designed to mitigate long-term risks, such as environmental pollution or health and safety risks.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 22 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Decision making, psychological, preferences, measurement methods, social science., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Ecology and Ecosystems, decision-making, Ecological Risk Assessment, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, ecosystem valuation, multi-objective decision making, policy analysis, social psychology, social impact analysis, community involvement, decision analysis, incentives, decision making, environmental values, non-market valuation, preference formation, multi-attribute utility, environmental policy, long-term consequences, public values, discount rates, public policy, stated preference, multi-criteria decision analysis, benefits assessment

Relevant Websites:

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001
  • Final Report