AHP as a means for improving public participation: A pre-post experiment with university students

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48 Scopus citations


Students enrolled in a course in natural resources management and economics at the University of Arizona tested the application of the multi-criteria decision method, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), to a national forest planning situation. The students first used an intuitive method and then the AHP method to express their preferences for eight possible wilderness sites that were characterized and thus differentiated by 19 criteria. The sites were located in the Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona, USA. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient was calculated to test for correlation between the rankings generated by the intuitive decision method and the AHP method. The Spearman's tests indicated for 16 of the 20 students a lack of correlation between individual rankings by the two methods thus suggesting that the AHP can influence preference rankings. Questionnaire responses by the students indicated that the AHP requires closer scrutiny and a more comprehensive consideration of all criteria than does an intuitive preference ranking approach. This study demonstrates that the AHP offers potential for actual application as a public participation tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-514
Number of pages14
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)
  • Arid lands
  • Forest planning
  • Multi-criteria decision-making
  • Pre-post experiment
  • Public involvement
  • Public participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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