Are We Missing Something When Measuring Citizens' Perceptions of the Extractive Industry?

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Nov 2023
We study individual preferences and public beliefs surrounding extractive industries in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region using a metaphor elicitation technique instead of standard stated self-reported questions. Combining qualitative one-on-one interviews in Guyana and Venezuela with national surveys in 12 LAC countries, we uncover deep metaphors and narratives shaping citizens views. The findings reveal key narratives centered around environmental, economic, and social impacts, as well as governance and local participation. Sentiment analysis indicates polarized opinions on extractive industries. The study highlights the importance of considering emotional and unconscious mental models in shaping individual preferences, which is often overlooked in traditional survey-based methodologies. Our findings could contribute to more nuanced policy interventions and conflict resolution strategies in the extractive sector. Broadly, alternative tools to stated preference surveys are valuable for researchers and policymakers to understand public sentiment across various issues and contexts.