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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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    Blog mentions

    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 18:36:08

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    Cited by:

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    5. 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.
    6. 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.
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    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Serra-Garcia, Marta & Szech, Nora, 2018. "The (in)elasticity of moral ignorance," Working Paper Series in Economics 120, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Management.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; cognitive dissonance;
    All these keywords.

    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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