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Self-Image and Strategic Ignorance in Moral Dilemmas

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  • Grossman, Zachary
  • van der Weele, Joël

Abstract

Avoiding information about adverse welfare consequences of self-interested decisions, orstrategic ignorance, is an important source of corruption, anti-social behavior and even atrocities. We model an agent who cares about self-image and has the opportunity to learn the social benefits of a personally costly action. The trade-off between self-image concerns and material payoffs can lead the agent to use ignorance as an excuse, even if it is deliberately chosen. Two experiments, modeled after Dana, Weber, and Kuang (2007), show that a) many people will reveal relevant information about others' payoffs after making an ethical decision, but not before, and b) some people are willing to pay for ignorance. These results corroborate the idea that Bayesian self-signaling drives people to avoid inconvenient facts in moral decisions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt0bp6z29t.

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Date of creation: 15 Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0bp6z29t

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Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences; prosocial behavior; dictator games; strategic ignorance; self-signaling;

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References

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  2. Grossman, Zachary, 2010. "Self-Signaling Versus Social-Signaling in Giving," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7320x2cp, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  7. Nyborg, Karine, 2011. "I don't want to hear about it: Rational ignorance among duty-oriented consumers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 263-274, August.
  8. Silvia Dominguez Martinez & Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2010. "Monitoring your Friends, not your Foes: Strategic Ignorance and the Delegation of Real Authority," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-101/1, Tinbergen Institute.
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  13. Murnighan, J. Keith & Oesch, John M. & Pillutla, Madan, 2001. "Player Types and Self-Impression Management in Dictatorship Games: Two Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 388-414, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 104-115.
  2. Joël J. van der Weele & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2014. "Bracelets of Pride and Guilt? An Experimental Test of Self-Signaling in Charitable Giving," CESifo Working Paper Series 4674, CESifo Group Munich.

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