IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_4316.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Willful Ignorance Deflect Punishment? - An Experimental Study

Author

Listed:
  • Björn Bartling
  • Florian Engl
  • Roberto A. Weber

Abstract

This 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Bartling & Florian Engl & Roberto A. Weber, 2013. "Does Willful Ignorance Deflect Punishment? - An Experimental Study," CESifo Working Paper Series 4316, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4316
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp4316.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. 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.
    3. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2011. "Strategic Ignorance in Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 6087, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-401, September.
    5. Michal Krawczyk, 2011. "A model of procedural and distributive fairness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 111-128, January.
    6. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-1846, September.
    7. Sebald, Alexander, 2010. "Attribution and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 339-352, January.
    8. Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 136-163, January.
    9. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 2012. "Fairness, risk preferences and independence: Impossibility theorems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 606-612.
    10. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
    11. 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.
    12. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    13. Zephyr, 2010. "The city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 154-155, February.
    14. Trautmann, Stefan T., 2009. "A tractable model of process fairness under risk," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 803-813, October.
    15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. 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 Business Engineering.
    2. Christine L. Exley, 2015. "Excusing Selfishness in Charitable Giving: The Role of Risk," Discussion Papers 15-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. 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.
    4. Sanjit Dhami, 2017. "Human Ethics and Virtues: Rethinking the Homo-Economicus Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 6836, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Engel, Christoph & Goerg, Sebastian J., 2018. "If the worst comes to the worst: Dictator giving when recipient’s endowments are risky," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 51-70.
    6. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    willful ignorance; third party punishment; dictator game; fairness;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4316. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cesifde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.