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Does Pricing Nature Reduce Monetary Support for Conservation?: Evidence From Donation Behavior in an Online Experiment

Sandra H. Goff, Timothy M. Waring and Caroline L. Noblet

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 141, issue C, 119-126

Abstract: Ecosystem services valuation attempts to determine the monetary value of the benefits provided by the natural world. Prior research has shown that making monetary value salient fosters self-interested behavior in experimental settings (Vohs, Mead, and Goode, 2006), reduces the intrinsic value ascribed to pro-social activities such as volunteering (Pfeffer and DeVoe, 2009), and reduces the efficacy of environmentally relevant interventions (Steinhorst, Klockner, and Matthies, 2015). These findings raise concern that ecosystem service valuation information might adversely impact individual's pro-environmental behaviors. This study uses an experimental framework to determine whether ordinary citizens' exposure to valuation information, such as one might encounter in a news article or fundraising materials, might influence an individual's contribution to a natural resource conservation fund. The study is implemented with 250 participants from across the United States. We find that participants who receive a “natural resource description plus valuation” treatment donate a statistically significant lower dollar amount of their experimental earnings on average than those who read the narrative alone. Based upon this evidence, we assert that ecosystem service valuation information has the potential to negatively impact financial support for the exact resources the information is designed to promote.

Keywords: Experimental economics; Economic valuation; Ecosystem services; Donation behavior; Monetary priming (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D03 D64 H41 Q51 Q57 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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