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  • Onjamirindra Rakotonarivo
    University of Copenhagen
  • Marije Schaafsma
    University of Southampton
  • Neal Hockley
While discrete choice experiments (DCEs) are increasingly used in the field of environmental valuation, they remain controversial because of their hypothetical nature and the contested reliability and validity of their results. We systematically reviewed evidence on the validity and reliability of environmental DCEs from the past thirteen years (Jan 2003- February 2016). 107 articles met our inclusion criteria. These studies provide limited and mixed evidence of the reliability and validity of DCE. Valuation results were susceptible to small changes in survey design in 45% of outcomes reporting reliability measures. DCE results were generally consistent with those of other stated preference-based techniques (convergent validity), but hypothetical bias was common. Evidence supporting theoretical validity (consistency with assumptions of rational choice theory) was also limited, and a considerable proportion of respondents found DCEs to be inacceptable, inconsequential or incomprehensible (2-90%, 10-65%, and 17-40% respectively). DCE remains useful for non-market valuation, but its results should be used with caution. Given the sparse and inconclusive evidence base, we recommend that tests of reliability and validity are more routinely integrated into DCE studies and suggest how this might be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number1
Early online date27 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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