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Do I Really Want to Know? A Cognitive Dissonance-Based Explanation of Other-Regarding Behavior

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Author Info

  • Astrid Matthey

    (Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, Kahlaische Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany)

  • Tobias Regner

    ()
    (Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, Kahlaische Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany)

Abstract

We investigate to what extent genuine social preferences can explain observed other-regarding behavior. In a dictator game variant subjects can choose whether to learn about the consequences of their choice for the receiver. We find that a majority of subjects showing other-regarding behavior when the payoffs of the receiver are known, choose to ignore these consequences if possible. This behavior is inconsistent with preferences about outcomes. Other-regarding behavior may also be explained by avoiding cognitive dissonance as in Konow (2000). Our experiment’s choice data is in line with this approach. In addition, we successfully relate individual behavior to proxies for cognitive dissonance.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Games.

Volume (Year): 2 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 114-135

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Handle: RePEc:gam:jgames:v:2:y:2011:i:1:p:114-135:d:11378

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Related research

Keywords: social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; cognitive dissonance;

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References

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  1. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2003. "Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interaction: Colin F. Camerer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 550, Price $65.00/[UK pound]42.95, ISBN 0-691-09039-4," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 717-720, December.
  2. Pablo Branas-Garza & Ana Leon-Mejia & Luis M. Miller, 2007. "Response Time under Monetary Incentives: the Ultimatum Game," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-070, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  3. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  4. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Dissonance, ignorance & Lib Dems
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2010-11-24 12:36:08
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Cited by:
  1. Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2012. "‘Hiding behind a small cake’ in a newspaper dictator game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 82-85.
  2. Ploner, Matteo & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Self-image and moral balancing: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 374-383.
  3. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2012. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," MPRA Paper 41078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Alvin Etang Ndip & David Fielding & Stephen Knowles, 2010. "Giving to Africa and Perceptions of Poverty," Working Papers 1008, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2010.

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