Over-perception about Land Use Changes: Assessing Empirical Evidence and Linkage with Decisions and Motivated Beliefs

Hongli Feng, Tong Wang, David A. Hennessy, Gaurav Arora
November 2021  [21-WP 626]

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Suggested citation:

Feng, H., T. Wang, D. Hennessy, and G. Arora. 2021. "Over-perception about Land Use Changes: Assessing Empirical Evidence and Linkage with Decisions and Motivated Beliefs." Working paper 21-WP 626. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Abstract

Perception biases documented in the literature often pertain to subject matters that are difficult to observe or measure such as one’s ability. We study perception biases with respect to a concrete indicator that can be objectively measured: land use changes in a local area. We examine four hypotheses about land use change perceptions and test them with farm survey data complemented by satellite data. We discover systematic biases in farmers’ perceptions about local land use changes that are consistent with motivated beliefs, and also evidence that links perceptions with intended future land conversions. Alternative explanations and policy implications are discussed.