Sad or Happy? The Effects of Emotions on Stated Preferences for Environmental Goods

Nick Hanley, Christopher Boyce, Mikołaj Czajkowski, Steve Tucker, Charles Noussair, Michael Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A substantial literature in behavioural science and psychology shows that emotions affect human choices and values. This paper investigates whether such emotional impacts are also present in stated choice experiments for environmental goods. If this were so, it would introduce an additional element of context dependence to the welfare measures derived from such methods, and would be at odds with the rational choice model underlying welfare economics. A laboratory experiment using three different emotion treatments was combined with a stated preference choice experiment concerned with changes in coastal water quality and fish populations in New Zealand. No statistically significant effects of changes in emotional state on estimated preference parameters, willingness to pay or the randomness of choices were found. The paper concludes by questioning, why such a contrast exists with empirical findings in behavioural science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-846
Number of pages26
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Behavioral economics
  • Choice experiments
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Emotions
  • Environmental valuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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