Experimental Design Details
This survey-based experiment was conducted through participation in the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). The study described herein is only one very small portion of the entire CCES work. Although the study was implemented in October and November of 2016, data is not expected to be received by study partners until March 2017.
Within this study’s section of the CCES, participants are randomly assigned to receive one of eight graphics, the result of a 2 X 2 X 2 full-factorial design (please note that analysis is not full-factorial – see Analysis section for more information). Graphics differ on the following dimensions: (i) presence of economic valuation information (Yes or No), (ii) benefit type (use or non-use), and (iii) source of information (business or non-profit). The graphics serve as the primary manipulation in the study and are meant to serve as a priming and/or framing device.
After viewing the graphic, participants express their agreement with a set of questions on a scale from 0 – 100:
1. When creating new national park and forest lands, it is important to consider economic impacts. (impact)
2. There is no way to put a dollar value on the worth of our national parks. (dollar)
3. Some natural resources are so important that they should be preserved at any cost. (preserve)
4. Americans have a civic duty to support their national parks and forests. (duty)
5. No matter who you are or where you live, every kid should be able to enjoy America’s parks, monuments, lands, and waters. (This question is a direct quote from President Obama in speaking about his Every Kid in a Park program.) (kids)
After answering these questions, participants receive the following questions presented in random order:
1. Please indicate how many additional dollars you would be willing to pay in taxes per year to protect and maintain our national parks. Please use whole dollar amounts. (taxes)
2. How likely would you be …
a. to write to your Senator or Representative to ask them to support our national park system? (write)
b. to vote to increase funding for our national park system? (vote)
c. to donate to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks? (donate)
Participants are also asked additional questions used to create composite variables measuring financial stress (finstress) and feelings of obligation to: unknown others (moral), close friends and family (close), their work/employer (work), and civic activities, particularly voting (civic).
As a part of the overall CCES, participants are also asked a variety of additional demographic, socioeconomic, and political questions that are used within the present study.
Details Regarding Graphics used as Priming/Framing Devices
Each participant randomly receives a graphic meant to resemble a marketing device that could be used to attempt to increase support for national parks. The background for all graphics is the same photo; the photo contains mountains in the background, with a stream and flowers in the foreground. Each graphic also has the same statement in its lower third, “Tell Congress to support our National Park Service.”
Economic Valuation Information
The dollar value used in the economic valuation condition is kept constant at $28.5 billion per year, estimated roughly from a variety of sources. This study is not interested in the effect of particular dollar values, but rather the difference across groups based upon presence of economic valuation and benefit type. The only difference between the graphics with and without economic valuation, is that the statement at the top of the economic valuation study includes the text, “a benefit valued at over $28.5 billion per year.”
The graphics used present the participant with one of two different types of benefit, use or non-use. The use value statement used is “National Parks provide outdoor recreational opportunities for all Americans.” This statement emphasizes the direct use benefit that individuals receive from the parks. The non-use value condition uses the statement “National Parks protect important lands for future generations.” This statement emphasizes existence value, not for the individual, but for future generations.
Each graphic also lists as its source one of two fictitious organizations; the Center for Public Parks Conservation (meant to sound like a non-profit organization) or the Business Coalition of America (meant to sound like a business association).
In this second, follow-up study, 500 participants are recruited through the use of Amazon Mechanical Turk and are offered $2.25 for their work. This study uses a 2 X 2 between subjects factorial design (the source of information from Study 1 is eliminated). Outcome variables are identical to those in Study 1, except for two changes: (i) participants are given the opportunity to donate $1 of their experimental earnings to the National Park Foundation, replacing the stated willingness to donate from Study 1, and (ii) participants are asked if they would like to write out a pledge to engage in pro-environmental behavior over the coming year.