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Improving Deliberative Environmental Management Under Uncertainty, 2009-2010 (ICPSR 34809)

Principal Investigator(s): Gregory, Robin, Decision Research


Improving Deliberative Environmental Management Under Uncertainty examined similarities and differences between expert and public understanding of uncertainty. This collection directly compares expert and layperson interpretations and understandings of different expressions of uncertainty, in the context of evaluating the consequences of proposed environmental management actions that influence economic, social, or health concerns. Data were collected via a Web-based survey where respondents were asked a series of questions after they were given four hypothetical scenarios on the following topics: wind farms, vegetation management, superfund site, and salmon. Each scenario described an environmental proposal along with pros and cons then respondents selected a response option with costs and benefits of the proposal in mind. The first scenario focused on a plan to manage forest vegetation in the northeastern United States, using either conventional methods involving aerial spraying of herbicides or more expensive hand spraying methods intended to reduce adverse impacts on local moose populations. The second scenario focused on a proposal to build a new windfarm in a western state, which would lower electricity rates to local communities but could have negative effects on resident songbird populations. The third scenario focused on a plan to clean up hazardous waste at a large industrial Superfund site. The waste was estimated to have caused 200 children to develop serious respiratory illness from exposure to contaminated drinking water; building a decontamination facility would reduce the number of sick children but would be very expensive and would take time to build. The fourth scenario focused on a plan to reduce the declining population of Chinook Salmon. In order to reduce the Chinook Salmon declines in the Seshon River, an advisory committee must find a balance between the protection of salmon and the use of water to generate electricity, which is a cause in salmon reduction. Participants responded to hypothetical but realistic scenarios involving trade-offs between options presented and other objectives, and were asked a series of questions about their comprehension of the uncertainty information, their preferred choice among the alternatives, and the associated difficulty and amount of effort. Respondents were asked general questions which ranged from how they felt about a particular issue to how easy or difficult it was to answer the questions associated with each scenario. Demographic information includes gender, age and education level.

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.


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Study Description


Gregory, Robin. Improving Deliberative Environmental Management Under Uncertainty, 2009-2010. ICPSR34809-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-08-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34809.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34809.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (0725025)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    decision making, energy production, environmental attitudes, environmental impact, environmental policy, environmental protection, health problems, judgment, natural resources, risk management, wildlife

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2009--2010

Date of Collection:   

  • 2009-12-09--2010-01-20

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Decision Research Web-panel participants located throughout the United States.

Data Type(s):    experimental data

Data Collection Notes:

Special collaborators for Improving Deliberative Environmental Management Under Uncertainty, 2009-2010, include Nathan Dieckmann and Ellen Peters.


Study Design:    Please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook for further information on study design.

Sample:    Public Sample: Nationally representative, convienence sample of Decision Research web-panel participants located throughout the United States. Expert Sample: Web site organized by United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) for employees who have undertaken some previous training in resource management and decision-making. Please refer to Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook for further information on sampling.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    none

Mode of Data Collection:    web-based survey

Description of Variables:    This collection contains 113 variables.

Response Rates:    The response rate for the public is 95 percent. The response rate for the expert sample is 27 percent. Please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook for further information on response rates.

Presence of Common Scales:    Two 10-item Numeracy Scales

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-08-30

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