Behavioral and experimental agri-environmental research: methodological challenges, literature gaps, and recommendations

Author(s)Palm-Forster, Leah
Author(s)Ferraro, Paul J.
Author(s)Janusch, Nicholas
Author(s)Vossler, Christian A.
Author(s)Messer, Kent D.
Date Accessioned2019-12-10T18:09:53Z
Date Available2019-12-10T18:09:53Z
Publication Date2019-12
DescriptionThe authors appreciate feedback and helpful comments from Simanti Banerjee, Tim Cason, Lata Gangadharan, Jordan Suter, Tim Wojan, attendees at the 2018 Brown Bag Lunch Series on Behavioral Science in Agri-environmental Program Design hosted by USDA ERS, and participants of the 2018 Appalachian Experimental & Environmental Economics Workshop and the 2017 Conference for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-environmental Research: Methodological Advancements & Applications to Policy (CBEAR-MAAP). Dr. Janusch contributed to this article in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the California Energy Commission.en_US
AbstractInsights from behavioral and experimental economics research can inform the design of evidence-based, cost-effective agri-environmental programs that mitigate environmental damages and promote the supply of environmental benefits from agricultural landscapes. To enhance future research on agri-environmental program design and to increase the speed at which credible scientific knowledge is accumulated, we highlight methodological challenges, identify important gaps in the existing literature, and make key recommendations for both researchers and those evaluating research. We first report on four key methodological challenges – underpowered designs, multiple hypothesis testing, interpretation issues, and choosing appropriate econometric methods – and suggest strategies to overcome these challenges. Specifically, we emphasize the need for more detailed planning during the experimental design stage, including power analyses and publishing a pre-analysis plan. Greater use of replication studies and meta-analyses will also help address these challenges and strengthen the quality of the evidence base. In the second part of this paper, we discuss how insights from behavioral and experimental economics can be applied to improve the design of agri-environmental programs. We summarize key insights using the MINDSPACE framework, which categorizes nine behavioral effects that influence decision-making (messenger, incentives, norms, defaults, salience, priming, affect, commitment, and ego), and we highlight recent research that tests these effects in agri-environmental contexts. We also propose a framework for prioritizing policy-relevant research in this domain.en_US
SponsorThe authors acknowledge financial support from the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), the Center for Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research (CBEAR), and conference funding from the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture through the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative Foundational Program (NIFA-AFRI Grant No. 12234087).en_US
PublisherDepartment of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.en_US
Part of SeriesAPEC Research Reports;RR19-06
KeywordsBehavioral insightsen_US
KeywordsEffect sizeen_US
KeywordsEnvironmental economicsen_US
KeywordsExperimental designen_US
KeywordsPower analysisen_US
KeywordsSubject poolsen_US
TitleBehavioral and experimental agri-environmental research: methodological challenges, literature gaps, and recommendationsen_US
TypeWorking Paperen_US
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