The role of uncertainty in the relationship between fairness evaluations and willingness to pay

Document Type

Journal Article


Elsevier Ltd


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Business and Law - Deans Office




Jorgensen, B. S., Syme, G. J., & Nancarrow, B. E. (2006). The role of uncertainty in the relationship between fairness evaluations and willingness to pay. Ecological Economics, 56(1), 104-124.


Participants in contingent valuation studies may be uncertain about a number of aspects of the policy and survey context. The uncertainty management model of fairness judgments states that individuals will evaluate a policy in terms of its fairness when they do not know whether they can trust the relevant managing authority or experience uncertainty due to insufficient knowledge of the general issues surrounding the environmental policy. Similarly, some researchers have suggested that, not knowing how to answer WTP questions, participants convey their general attitudes toward the public good rather than report well-defined economic preferences. These contentions were investigated in a sample of 840 residents in four urban catchments across Australia who were interviewed about their WTP for stormwater pollution abatement. Four sources of uncertainty were measured: amount of prior issue-related thought, trustworthiness of the water authority, insufficient scenario information, and WTP response uncertainty. A logistic regression model was estimated in each subsample to test the main effects of the uncertainty sources on WTP as well as their interaction with fairness and proenvironmental attitudes. Results indicated support for the uncertainty management model in only one of the four samples. Similarly, proenvironmental attitudes interacted rarely with uncertainty to a significant level, and in ways that were more complex than hypothesised. It was concluded that uncertain individuals were generally not more likely than other participants to draw on either fairness evaluations or proenvironmental attitudes when making decisions about paying for stormwater pollution abatement.





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