Informing and forming preferences in environmental valuation: Coral reef biodiversity

Clive L. Spash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The level and depth of information provision required for making informed judgements over environmental options has remained troublesome in various contexts from individual choice through to international policy. In the valuation literature concern has been expressed for 'information bias' leading to distorted estimates of the worth of environmental entities (e.g. wildlife, ecosystems) because peoples intentions are formed during the valuation process by the information provided. Contending psychological models on the role of information and its relationship to ethical concerns are reviewed with respect to public decision processes over environmental entities. The robustness of pre-existing environmental preferences is then linked to ethical positions but their role is unclear. Empirical evidence is reported from a contingent valuation method study of coral reef biodiversity on the strong connections between informing and forming preferences and specific ethical beliefs regarding environmental entities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-687
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The empirical research reported in this paper was funded by The World Bank as part of their work on coral reef preservation managed by Richard Huber. Thanks to Arild Vatn for commenting on an earlier draft. Thanks also go to field workers in the West Indies and researchers involved at various stages Jasper van der Werff ten Bosch, Susie Westmacott, and Jack Ruitenbeek.


  • Contingent valuation
  • Coral reef biodiversity
  • Environmental ethics
  • Information bias
  • Rights based beliefs
  • Values

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