Determinants of stated willingness to pay for public goods: A study in the headline method

Daniel Kahneman*, Ilana Ritov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Respondents were shown brief statements ("headlines") referring to various threats to the environment or to public health, and other public issues. An intervention to deal with each problem was also introduced by a single sentence. Some respondents were asked to indicate their willingness to pay for the interventions by voluntary contributions. Others indicated their opinion of the intervention on a conventional rating scale, rated the personal satisfaction of contributing to it, or rated the importance of the problem. Group averages of these response measures were obtained for a large set of issues. Computed over issues, the rank-order correlations between the different measures were very high, suggesting that group averages of WTP and of other opinion statements are measures of the same public attitudes. Observed preference reversals and violations of monotonicity in contributions are better explained by a concept of attitude than by the notion of economic value that underlies the contingent valuation method. Contributions and purchases do not follow the same logic. Possible implications for the contingent valuation method are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5-37
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • contingent valuation
  • preference reversals
  • willingness-to-pay


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