Latent class model

Including value orientations in choice models to estimate benefits of wildlife management policies

Value orientations towards wildlife affect the way people perceive nature and their connection with animals. In particular, the social psychological literature within the environmental field suggests that there are two main orientations of people towards wildlife: mutualism and domination. This body of literature has shown how wildlife value orientations can serve as predictors of attitudes and behaviours towards wildlife and form the foundation of human-wildlife conflicts. A common approach in the non-market valuation literature is to include information on attitudes and values in the deterministic part of the utility function, leading to problems of endogeneity bias. To avoid this, analysts have recently shifted their attention to approaches based on latent variables. This paper presents an application of a latent variable and latent class model, to understand how latent orientations influence choices, in a case study in the Italian Alps. The intuition is that different underlying individual value orientation affects preferences and the level of willingness to pay and should be therefore considered in choice models. The latent variable is used to explain class membership of respondents. Results indicate that the latent variable has a significant effect in class allocation and that the hybrid model performs better than a simple two class model. Results provide guidance on the social acceptability of management interventions and can support public decision-makers in the modulation of wildlife management policies for balancing the needs of conservation and outdoor recreation, explicitly considering existing human-wildlife conflicts.

Motivations matter: Behavioural determinants of preferences for remote and unfamiliar environmental goods

Discrete choice experiments (DCE) are one of the main methods for the valuation of non-market environmental goods. However, concerns regarding the validity of choice responses obtained in such surveys remain, particularly in surveys dealing with environmental goods remote from and unfamiliar to respondents. This study assesses behavioural determinants of preferences for conservation benefits of a marine protected area on the Dogger Bank, a shallow sandbank in the southern North Sea in an attempt to assess construct validity of survey responses. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and the Norm Activation Model (NAM) are employed to empirically measure constructs that predict stated choices. The study finds that identified protest respondents score significantly lower on most TPB and NAM components than non-protesters. Results further show that components of both the TPB and the NAM robustly predict choice behaviour. The inclusion of the TPB components improves the predictive power of the estimation model more than the NAM components. In an additional latent class logit model, TPB and NAM components plausibly explain different patterns of WTP for conservation benefits of an offshore marine protected area. These findings support construct validity of stated choice data regarding the valuation of remote and unfamiliar environmental goods.