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Using virtual environments to improve the realism of choice experiments : a case study about coastal erosion management.

Matthews, Y. and Scarpa, R. and Marsh, D. (2017) 'Using virtual environments to improve the realism of choice experiments : a case study about coastal erosion management.', Journal of environmental economics and management., 81 . pp. 193-208.


Choice experiment surveys are commonly used to assess the general public's willingness to pay for different levels of environmental quality. However, respondents need to understand what they are valuing or they will make potentially wrong assumptions based on different experiences and frames of reference. Three-dimensional computer generated models or Virtual Environments (VE) have so far seen little use in economics research, probably due to the complexity and cost of developing and delivering them to study participants. The few studies that have used them find that VE are superior to static image presentations in helping people evaluate complex data. For this study we developed virtual environments for a choice experiment about coastal erosion management using free, easy-to-use software and Google Earth© satellite imagery and presented these to respondents as video tours. Our results indicate that the VE treatment reduced choice error, reduced left-right bias and improved respondent engagement and retention when compared with static images. There were also differences in WTP between the two groups.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2016 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:07 August 2016
Date deposited:15 August 2016
Date of first online publication:13 August 2016
Date first made open access:13 February 2018

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