AbstractThis paper analyzes if people use ignorance as an excuse to pursue immediate gratification, at the expense of future wellbeing, a behavior we label ‘strategic self-ignorance’. In a theoretical model we show that present-biased individuals benefit from choosing ignorance of the potentially negative impact of present consumption, and that ignorance leads to over consumption of harmful goods. In an experiment we empirically test for strategic self-ignorance. The experiment entails prepared meals, for which subjects may be familiar with the taste (immediate utility) but are uninformed of the calorie content (potential harm to future health). Subjects are offered costless information on the calorie content of the meal alternatives. A majority of subjects (58 percent) choose to remain ignorant of the calorie content, and ignorance leads to a significantly higher intake of calories. Our results imply that people are strategically self-ignorant and that such behavior may help explain over consumption of harmful goods.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 123949.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Phone: (414) 918-3190
Fax: (414) 276-3349
Web page: http://www.aaea.org
More information through EDIRC
strategic ignorance; harmful consumption; experiment; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy;
Other versions of this item:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics; Underlying Principles
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-06-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2012-06-05 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2012-06-05 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2012-06-05 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-NEU-2012-06-05 (Neuroeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Broberg, Tomas & Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2007. "Is generosity involuntary?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 32-37, January.
- Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
- James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007.
"Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects,"
07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, 09.
- James Andreoni, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001459, UCLA Department of Economics.
- James Andreoni & Ragan Petrie, 2003.
"Public Goods Experiments Without Confidentiality: A Glimpse Into Fund-Raising,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
506439000000000520, David K. Levine.
- Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2004. "Public goods experiments without confidentiality: a glimpse into fund-raising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1605-1623, July.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Is obesity an information problem?
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-06-27 14:16:00
by himaginary in himaginaryの日記 on 2012-06-29 07:00:00
- Strategic self-ignorance
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-08-14 14:52:00
- Thunström, Linda & van 't Veld, Klaas & Shogren, Jason F. & Nordström, Jonas, 2013. "On Strategic Ignorance of Environmental Harm and Social Norms," Working Papers 2013:22, Lund University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.