Verbiage Matters: Do Respondents Answer Willingness to Pay Dichotomous Choice Questions on a Per Person or Per Group Basis?

Dichotomous choice willingness to pay questions are often used to determine the value visitors place on nature-based recreation. Ambiguity in wording can result in the use of information that does not necessarily reflect visitors’ true WTP. For example, depending on the specificity of the verbiage used, respondents may answer questions on a group basis, rather than an individual basis. To address this issue, experimental surveys were distributed with questions that specifically asked WTP on a per person basis, as compared to control surveys in which the WTP question was more generally worded. Analyses show WTP responses for either survey type are statistically different, with non-overlapping confidence intervals. Furthermore, approaches were conducted to correct for potential differences in interpretation, in the event that control survey respondents answered for the group as opposed to answering as an individual. Each method yielded different results, with non-overlapping confidence intervals. The lack of consensus between results indicates that there is a high level of variance in visitor’s interpretation of dichotomous choice questions. Therefore, it is necessary to use specific verbiage when designing surveys, to ensure responses to WTP dichotomous choice questions can be interpreted correctly by researchers. Specifically, if researchers want respondents to answer on an individual basis, this language needs to be explicitly stated.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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