Does willful ignorance deflect punishment? – An experimental study
AbstractThis paper studies whether people can avoid punishment by remaining willfully ignorant about possible negative consequences of their actions for others. We employ a laboratory experiment, using modified dictator games in which a dictator can remain willfully ignorant about the payoff consequences of his decision for a receiver. A third party can punish the dictator after observing the dictator’s decision and the resulting payoffs. On the one hand, willfully ignorant dictators are punished less if their actions lead to unfair outcomes than dictators who reveal the consequences before implementing the same outcome. On the other hand, willfully ignorant dictators are punished more than revealing dictators if their actions do not lead to unfair outcomes. We conclude that willful ignorance can circumvent blame when unfair outcomes result, but that the act of remaining willfully ignorant is itself punished, regardless of the outcome.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 125.
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Willful ignorance; third party punishment; dictator game; fairness;
Other versions of this item:
- Björn Bartling & Florian Engl & Roberto A. Weber, 2013. "Does Willful Ignorance Deflect Punishment? - An Experimental Study," CESifo Working Paper Series 4316, CESifo Group Munich.
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-07-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2013-07-05 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-CDM-2013-07-05 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-EVO-2013-07-05 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2013-07-05 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2013-07-05 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
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