Stated choice experiments about ecosystem changes involve complex information. This study examines whether the format in which ecosystem information is presented to respondents affects stated choice outcomes. Our analysis develops a utility-maximizing model to describe respondent behavior. The model shows how alternative questionnaire formats alter respondents’ use of filtering heuristics and result in differences in preference estimates. Empirical results from a large-scale stated choice experiment confirm that different format presentations of the same information lead to different preference parameter estimates and error variances. A tabular format results in choice parameter estimates with statistically smaller variances than parameters estimated from data obtained with a text-based format. A text-based format also appears to induce greater use of decision heuristics than does a tabular format.


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