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Effects of alternative elicitation formats in discrete choice experiments

By Gabriela Scheufele and Jeffrey W. Bennett

Abstract

An elicitation format prevalently applied in DCE is to offer each respondent a sequence of choice tasks containing more than two choice options. However, empirical evidence indicates that repeated choice tasks influence choice behavior through institutional learning, fatigue, value learning, and strategic response. The study reported in this paper employs a split sample approach based on field surveys using a single binary elicitation format with a majority vote implementation as the baseline to expand the research on effects of sequential binary DCE formats. We provide evidence for effects caused by institutional learning and either strategic behavior or value learning after respondents answered repeated choice questions. However, we did not find any indications for strategic behavior caused by awareness of having multiple choices. The choice between a sequential and a single elicitation format may thus imply a trade-off between decreased choice accuracy and potentially increased strategic behavior due to an incentive incompatible mechanism. Further research is needed to explore strategic behavior induced by incentive incompatible elicitation formats using alternative approaches that are not compromised by a confounded baseline, that facilitate the differentiation between value learning and strategic behavior, and that allow the use of less restrictive model specifications. Such research should also investigate the effects of varying incentives induced by the order in which choice questions are presented to respondents.discrete choice experiments, split sample approach, elicitation format, incentive compatibility, strategic behavior, learning effects, panel mixed logit models, Environmental Economics and Policy,

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