Survey vs. experimental method in the context of WTA and WTP. The role of realigning incentive in the process of personal data valuation

Wojciech Bizon

Social research is based in its dominant part on polls and surveys in which respondents declare how they would react in a particular situation in the future. It is not anything uncommon that when confronting the data previously gathered during the surveys with the actual situation visible and definite differences occur. They may be partly due to the false declarations, partly because of an unexpected change of behaviour just in the moment of taking a decision.

One of the current problems in knowledge and information based economy is an issue of privacy protection. The value of private personal data is difficult to be priced objectively and unambiguously. In this context, an approach based on WTA (willingness to accept) and WTP (willingness to pay) seem to be most appropriate. It is commonly used when the values of non-standard and unique goods are trying to be estimated.

In research described in the article a WTA/WTP concept was used to measure the value of personal data. The main purpose was to identify the differences between results obtained from the survey and from the use of a quasi-experimental method. For that purpose, several quasi-experiments with a real financial incentive (20, 40, 60 PLN; $5, $10, $15) have been introduced. The propensity to sell (or to buy back) the personal data was a subject of examination. Using analysis of proportions (testing differences in two proportions) and comparing the results from the surveys and the quasi-experiments, a set of detailed results was obtained. The comparison revealed visible discrepancies (in some situations statistically significant) between what was declared in the survey and what was shown in the experiment. At the same time, it has been indirectly shown (to some extent) that although surveys are not always the most accurate and reliable way to measure, they still might remain the optimal method of collecting research data due to their good cost-effectiveness ratio.


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Wojciech Bizon

University of Gdańsk

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DOI: 10.15219/em67.1259

The article is in the printed version on pages 14-20.

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