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Self-Image and Strategic Ignorance in Moral Dilemmas

  • Grossman, Zachary
  • van der Weele, Joël

Avoiding information about adverse welfare consequences of self-interested decisions, orstrategic ignorance, is an important source of corruption, anti-social behavior and even atrocities. We model an agent who cares about self-image and has the opportunity to learn the social benefits of a personally costly action. The trade-off between self-image concerns and material payoffs can lead the agent to use ignorance as an excuse, even if it is deliberately chosen. Two experiments, modeled after Dana, Weber, and Kuang (2007), show that a) many people will reveal relevant information about others' payoffs after making an ethical decision, but not before, and b) some people are willing to pay for ignorance. These results corroborate the idea that Bayesian self-signaling drives people to avoid inconvenient facts in moral decisions.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt0bp6z29t.

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Date of creation: 15 Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0bp6z29t
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