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Decisions by coin toss: Inappropriate but fair

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  • Gideon Keren
  • Karl H. Teigen
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    Abstract

    In many situations of indeterminacy, where people agree that no decisive arguments favor one alternative to another, they are still strongly opposed to resolving the dilemma by a coin toss. The robustness of this judgment-decision discrepancy is demonstrated in several experiments, where factors like the importance of consequences, similarity of alternatives, conflicts of opinion, outcome certainty, type of randomizer, and fairness considerations are systematically explored. Coin toss is particularly inappropriate in cases of life and death, even when participants agree that the protagonists should have the same chance of being saved. Using a randomizer may seem to conflict with traditional ideas about argument-based rationality and personal responsibility of the decision maker. Moreover, a concrete randomizer like a coin appears more repulsive than the abstract principle of using a random device. Concrete randomizers may, however, be admissible to counteract potential partiality. Implications of the aversion to use randomizers, even under circumstances in which there are compelling reasons to do so, are briefly discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 83-101

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:5:y:2010:i:2:p:83-101

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    Related research

    Keywords: coin toss; randomizers; equipoise; decision aversion.;

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    Cited by:
    1. Grimalda, Gianluca & Kar, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance : Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 989, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

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