Foregone and predicted futures: challenges of opportunity cost neglect and impact bias for public participation in policymaking

Galit Cohen-Blankshtain*, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Deliberative democracy fosters greater involvement of the public in policymaking. However, psychological challenges involved in eliciting policy preferences receive little attention in this context. This study addresses the implications of opportunity cost neglect (OCN) and impact bias for policy preferences. Utilizing a survey experiment among residents of peripheral towns in Israel, we examine preferences regarding investment in rail infrastructure in peripheral areas. In line with psychological studies on OCN, we find evidence that priming awareness to alternatives can de-bias OCN in policy preferences. However, this method is less effective for people who exhibit impact bias (respondents for whom the policy is new), presenting a serious challenge to the validity of policy preferences of those who are expected to be most affected by the considered policy. This paper offers a theoretical contribution to the relationship between OCN and impact bias, and discusses the practical implications for public participation in policymaking.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)677-697
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation: [Grant Number 2026/16]. The authors wish to thank Eyal Pe’er, Omer Yair, Shoham Choshen-Hillel and Anat Gofen for their helpful comments. We thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Deliberative democracy
  • impact bias
  • opportunity cost neglect
  • public preferences


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