Environmental Valuation: The Interaction of Risk, Context, and Uncertainty. Brenda J. Nordenstam, Christos Kyrou, and Jeff Mangel, Environmental Studies, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210
How does perception of risk and environmental valuation vary as a function of level of uncertainty? This study examines the influence of framing effects on respondent perception of ecological and health risk resulting from exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals. A theoretical approach adopted from environmental psychology is utilized which emphasizes the importance of contextual effects in influencing environmental perception and behavior. In the current study, four contextual frames (irreversibility, uncertainty, trust, and altruistic focus) consisting of two to three levels were systematically varied in a between subject design. The valuation of protective measures to reduce risk was predicted to vary as a function of the contextual factors presented. Respondents read a hypothetical scenario discussing possible reproductive consequences of endocrine-disrupter exposure. Questions on perception of risk, willingness to pay, environmental concern, effectiveness, attitudinal, and demographic questions were included in the survey. Relative changes in risk perception and environmental valuation were compared as a function of frame level and interaction between frames. The results support the hypothesis that differences in risk perception and valuation are modified by the framing of the environmental issue, as well as respondent ideology, world views, and demographic measures.