The following research is multifaceted. Firstly, I establish a proposal utilizing economic theory to improve one of the pollution reduction systems in America, Water Quality Trading (WQT) systems. After identifying transaction costs within WQT systems as an issue deserving attention, improvements to the system are suggested in the form of direct government financial interjection. Afterward, I take this proposal and manipulate an identified characteristic of rhetoric, the Integrative Complexity (IC), which is used to describe the policy. I then present different rhetorical descriptions of the proposal to a sample of the US population through an online survey to ascertain evidence that supports a relationship between IC and public opinion. While past scholars have attempted to understand how IC affects public opinion regarding various election scenarios, this research uniquely assesses how public opinion of ballot initiatives is affected. The survey also includes elements of Contingent Valuation (CV), an economic tool used to estimate the population’s Willingness to Pay (WTP) for the policy proposal. The research analyzes the public’s WTP in terms of the dollar value that the public would be willing to invest in the improved system, as well as in the form of a percentage increase in annual taxes. I find that the public reports lower levels of support for equivalent ballot initiatives with increasing levels of Integrative Complexity. The research also found that the public had a positive value for their Willingness To Pay for improving WQT systems, despite discrepancies in the magnitude of the values between dollar values and tax increase percentages.


Chaudhary, Sookti

Second Advisor

Davis, Erik


Economics; Political Science


American Politics | Behavioral Economics | Other Economics

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis


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