Giving Stated Preference Respondents “Time to Think”: Results From Four Countries

Previous studies have found that contingent valuation (CV) respondents who are given overnight to reflect on a CV scenario have 30–40% lower average willingness-to-pay (WTP) than respondents who are interviewed in a single session. This “time to think” (TTT) effect could explain much of the gap between real and hypothetical WTP observed in experimental studies.

Yet giving time to think is still rare in binary or multinomial discrete choice studies. We review the literature on increasing survey respondents’ opportunities to reflect on their answers and synthesize results from parallel TTT studies on private vaccine demand in four countries. Across all four countries, we find robust and consistent evidence from both raw data and multivariate models for a TTT effect: giving respondents overnight to think reduced the probability that a respondent said he or she would buy the hypothetical vaccines. Average WTP fell approximately 40%. Respondents with time to think were also more certain of their answers, and a majority said they used the opportunity to consult with their spouse or family. We conclude with a discussion of why researchers might be hesitant to adopt the TTT methodology.

Published in Resource and Environmental Economics

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Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia