Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Regional Research Institute

Document Number

Working Paper #2001-12


Regional Research Institute


This paper combines the psychometric methods of paired comparisons and environmental disposition measurement to explain seemingly lexicographic behavior in choice experiments. A paired comparison experiment is developed that measures economic values using a choice set composed of public goods, private goods, and sums of money. The method provides a detailed map of each respondent’s stated preferences, among the choice set elements. Two treatments are used that differ only on the range of the dollar magnitudes – Treatment A ranges from$10 to $700. Treatment B ranges from $10 to $9,000. In either treatment, a proportion of the respondents potentially exhibit lexicographic preferences. The Environmental Response Inventory is used and supplemented with statements regarding environmental ethics issues. Nine disposition scores are calculated for each respondent. Dispositions of pastoralism, antiquarianism, and environmental ethicism tend to correlate positively with increasing preferences for environmental goods, while the disposition of environmental adaptation tended to negatively correlate with preferences for environmental goods. The marginal effects of environmental dispositions were largest for people that did not value environmental goods highly (low valuers) and those that potentially valued the goods lexicographically. The results lend support to the conclusion that people who tend to hold deontological ethical stances toward the natural environment tend to use non-compensatory decision rules when expressing their values.