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Hypothetical and Real Economic Commitments, and Social Status, in Valuing a Species Protection Programme

Michael Getzner

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 2000, vol. 43, issue 4, 541-559

Abstract: There has been a long-running debate on the reliability and validity of the contingent valuation method, connected with the hypotheticality of the situation when respondents are asked to state their willingness to pay (WTP) for species protection (the so-called 'hypothetical bias'). Additionally, a number of recent arguments regarding donations to good causes and the benefits of achieving social status have questioned the motives of respondents who have stated their WTP. An experiment at the University of Klagenfurt tested for hypothetical bias by asking participants to state their hypothetical and real WTP for a species protection programme in the Hohe Tauern national park. Hypothetical and real WTP differed significantly. Additionally, it emerged that the pure ecological motive for stating a WTP might be concealed by arguments about donating in order to achieve social status and contributing to a good cause.

Date: 2000
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DOI: 10.1080/713676576

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