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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, Jena, Germany)

  • Tobias Regner

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, 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

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2010-077.

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Date of creation: 11 Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-077

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

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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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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. Matteo. Ploner & Tobias Regner, 2013. "Self-Image and Moral Balancing - An Experimental Analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-002, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  3. Etang, Alvin & Fielding, David & Knowles, Stephen, 2012. "Giving to Africa and perceptions of poverty," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 819-832.
  4. 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.

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