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Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining

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  • Conrads, Julian
  • Irlenbusch, Bernd

Abstract

In his classic article “An Essay on Bargaining” Schelling (1956) argues that ignorance might actually be strength rather than weakness. We test and confirm Schelling's conjecture in a simple take-it-or-leave-it bargaining experiment where the proposer can choose between two possible offers. Option A always gives the proposer a higher payoff than option B. The payoff of the responder depends on the (randomly determined) state of nature. In one state payoffs of the two players are aligned whereas they are not aligned in the other state. The responder is always informed about the actual state. The proposer knows the actual state in our first treatment but not in the second. We find that proposers indeed benefit from ignorance because the responders accept almost all offers (even the unfavorable ones) if the payoffs are not transparent for the proposer. In additional treatments we investigate bargaining situations where the proposer can deliberately remain ignorant.

Suggested Citation

  • Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 104-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:92:y:2013:i:c:p:104-115
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.05.010
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    Cited by:

    1. Rockenbach, Bettina & Pigors, Mark, 2015. "Consumer Social Responsibility," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113139, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Spiekermann, Kai & Weiss, Arne, 2016. "Objective and subjective compliance: A norm-based explanation of ‘moral wiggle room’," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 170-183.
    3. Felgendreher, Simon, 2018. "Do consumers choose to stay ignorant? The role of information in the purchase of ethically certified products," Working Papers in Economics 717, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Kajackaite, Agne, 2015. "If I close my eyes, nobody will get hurt: The effect of ignorance on performance in a real-effort experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 518-524.
    5. Bartling, Björn & Engl, Florian & Weber, Roberto A., 2014. "Does willful ignorance deflect punishment? – An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 512-524.
    6. repec:eee:soceco:v:73:y:2018:i:c:p:11-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Friehe, Tim & Utikal, Verena, 2018. "Intentions under cover – Hiding intentions is considered unfair," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 11-21.
    8. Güth, Werner & Kocher, Martin G., 2014. "More than thirty years of ultimatum bargaining experiments: Motives, variations, and a survey of the recent literature," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 396-409.
    9. Dimant, Eugen, 2015. "On Peer Effects: Behavioral Contagion of (Un)Ethical Behavior and the Role of Social Identity," MPRA Paper 68732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Tobias Regner & Astrid Matthey, 2015. "Do reciprocators exploit or resist moral wiggle room? An experimental analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-027, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    11. Feiler, Lauren, 2014. "Testing models of information avoidance with binary choice dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 253-267.
    12. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2017. "Motivated Errors," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-017, Harvard Business School, revised May 2018.
    13. Christine L. Exley & Judd Kessler, 2017. "The Better is the Enemy of the Good," Working Papers 2017-068, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    14. Bernd Irlenbusch & Marie Claire Villeval, 2015. "Behavioral ethics: how psychology influenced economics and how economics might inform psychology?," Post-Print halshs-01159696, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strategic ignorance; Bargaining; Intentions; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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