Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 481–495

Cognitive ability and scale bias in the contingent valuation method

An analysis of willingness to pay to reduce mortality risk


    • Department of Transport EconomicsSwedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • Mikael Svensson
    • Department of Business, Economics, Statistics and InformaticsÖrebro University

DOI: 10.1007/s10640-007-9137-0

Cite this article as:
Andersson, H. & Svensson, M. Environ Resource Econ (2008) 39: 481. doi:10.1007/s10640-007-9137-0


This study investigates whether or not the scale bias found in contingent valuation (CVM) studies on mortality risk reductions is a result of cognitive constraints among respondents. Scale bias refers to insensitivity and non-near-proportionality of the respondents’ willingness to pay (WTP) to the size of the risk reduction. Two hundred Swedish students participated in an experiment in which their cognitive ability was tested before they took part in a CVM-study asking them about their WTP to reduce bus-mortality risk. The results imply that WTP answers from respondents with a higher cognitive ability are less flawed by scale bias.


Cognitive abilityContingent valuationMortality riskNear-proportionalityScale bias

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007