Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Jennie H. Popp

Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr.

Second Committee Member

J. Brinck Kerr

Third Committee Member

Ronald L. Rainey


Social sciences, Cultural cognition, Discrete choice experiments, Genetically modified foods, Query Theory, Willingness to pay


In recent years, there has been an intensifying campaign by some stakeholders regarding concern over genetically modified (GM) foods in the U.S. As a result, the issue of labeling has entered into the federal agenda. This research uses Query Theory to provide a deeper understanding of the demand for GM foods and the preferences for GM policy. Query theory is first applied to the formation of hypothetical bias in the estimation of consumers’ willingness-to-pay. To address this, the honesty oath is used as an ex-ante technique to reduce hypothetical bias.

Paper one using Query Theory in a discrete-choice experiment (DCE) setting to examine the mechanism behind the effectiveness of the honesty oath in reducing hypothetical bias in discrete choice experiments. Our results show that the honesty oath can change the content and order of queries, thereby reducing hypothetical bias in discrete choice experiments.

In the second paper, Query Theory is used to examine the thought processes of individuals in a DCE in order to deduce attendance to individual attributes. Respondents may attend some attributes of the good in question and ignore others during each choice task. As a result, respondents may not make the trade-offs between all the attributes as assumed. The results show that the query approach to modeling attendance to attributes outperforms two other common approaches: the stated and inferred approaches.

Finally, in paper three, Query Theory is applied to the study of the influence of cultural worldview on the demand for GM foods policy in the U.S. Our results demonstrate that an individual’s cultural worldview influences their preferences for GM policy and consumer valuations. The results also support our Query Theory prediction that cultural worldview influences individual’s affective reactions to choice options leading to significantly different valuations. Though important differences do exist between individuals with different CWVs, there is common ground as well. Support for mandatory labeling is high with 82 percent of respondents indicating support for mandatory labeling which ranged from 71 percent to 88 percent, depending on CWV.