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Do I Really Want to Know? A Cognitive Dissonance-Based Explanation of Other-Regarding Behavior

Author

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  • Astrid Matthey

    (Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, Kahlaische Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany)

  • Tobias Regner

    () (Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, Kahlaische Str. 10, 07745 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2011. "Do I Really Want to Know? A Cognitive Dissonance-Based Explanation of Other-Regarding Behavior," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jgames:v:2:y:2011:i:1:p:114-135:d:11378
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    2. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Debrah Meloso & Luis M. Miller, 2008. "Instinctive Response in the Ultimatum Game," ThE Papers 08/08, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Debrah Meloso & Luis Miller, 2017. "Strategic risk and response time across games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 46(2), pages 511-523, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ploner, Matteo & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Self-image and moral balancing: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 374-383.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Sutan, Angela & Grolleau, Gilles & Mateu, Guillermo & Vranceanu, Radu, 2018. "“Facta non verba”: An experiment on pledging and giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 1-15.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9528-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2014. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 47-56.
    9. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2013. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 112-122.
    10. Kandul, Serhiy, 2016. "Ex-post blindness as excuse? The effect of information disclosure on giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 91-101.
    11. Francesca Gino & Michael I. Norton & Roberto A. Weber, 2016. "Motivated Bayesians: Feeling Moral While Acting Egoistically," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 189-212, Summer.
    12. Feiler, Lauren, 2014. "Testing models of information avoidance with binary choice dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 253-267.
    13. Kandul, Serhiy & Ritov, Ilana, 2017. "Close your eyes and be nice: Deliberate ignorance behind pro-social choices," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 54-56.
    14. repec:eee:joepsy:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:134-144 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; cognitive dissonance;

    JEL classification:

    • C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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