IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_8529.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cognitive Flexibility or Moral Commitment? Evidence of Anticipated Belief Distortion

Author

Listed:
  • Silvia Saccardo
  • Marta Serra-Garcia

Abstract

Do people anticipate the conditions that enable them to manipulate their beliefs when confronted with unpleasant information? We investigate whether individuals seek out the “cognitive flexibility” needed to distort beliefs in self-serving ways, or instead attempt to constrain it, committing to unbiased judgment. Experiments with 6500 participants, including financial and legal professionals, show that preferences are heterogeneous: over 40% of advisors prefer flexibility, even if costly. Actively seeking flexibility does not preclude belief distortion. Individuals anticipate the effects of cognitive flexibility and their choice to pursue it responds to incentives, suggesting some sophistication about the cognitive constraints to belief distortion.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Saccardo & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2020. "Cognitive Flexibility or Moral Commitment? Evidence of Anticipated Belief Distortion," CESifo Working Paper Series 8529, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8529
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp8529.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joshua Schwartzstein, 2014. "Selective Attention And Learning," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(6), pages 1423-1452, December.
    2. Emily Oster & Ira Shoulson & E. Ray Dorsey, 2013. "Optimal Expectations and Limited Medical Testing: Evidence from Huntington Disease," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 804-830, April.
    3. Hsee, Christopher K., 1996. "Elastic Justification: How Unjustifiable Factors Influence Judgments," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 122-129, April.
    4. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Salience and Consumer Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 803-843.
    5. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo & Collin Raymond, 2019. "Preferences for Truth‐Telling," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 87(4), pages 1115-1153, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Stefano DellaVigna & Devin Pope, 2018. "Predicting Experimental Results: Who Knows What?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(6), pages 2410-2456.
    8. Haisley, Emily C. & Weber, Roberto A., 2010. "Self-serving interpretations of ambiguity in other-regarding behavior," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 614-625, March.
    9. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2005. "CEO Overconfidence and Corporate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2661-2700, December.
    10. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    11. Ofra Amir & David G Rand & Ya'akov Kobi Gal, 2012. "Economic Games on the Internet: The Effect of $1 Stakes," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 7(2), pages 1-4, February.
    12. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    13. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
    14. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    15. Don A. Moore & Lloyd Tanlu & Max H. Bazerman, 2010. "Conflict of interest and the intrusion of bias," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(1), pages 37-53, February.
    16. Zachary Grossman & Joël J. van der Weele, 2017. "Self-Image and Willful Ignorance in Social Decisions," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 173-217.
    17. David Eil & Justin M. Rao, 2011. "The Good News-Bad News Effect: Asymmetric Processing of Objective Information about Yourself," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 114-138, May.
    18. Saucet, Charlotte & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2019. "Motivated memory in dictator games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 250-275.
    19. Nicholas Epley & Thomas Gilovich, 2016. "The Mechanics of Motivated Reasoning," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 133-140, Summer.
    20. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
    21. Tara Larson & C. Monica Capra, 2009. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: Illusory preference for fairness? A comment," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(6), pages 467-474, October.
    22. Rafael Di Tella & Ricardo Perez-Truglia & Andres Babino & Mariano Sigman, 2015. "Conveniently Upset: Avoiding Altruism by Distorting Beliefs about Others' Altruism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3416-3442, November.
    23. 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.
    24. Sobel, Joel, 2020. "Lying and Deception in Games," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt0015j574, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    25. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Mindful Economics: The Production, Consumption, and Value of Beliefs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 141-164, Summer.
    26. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1243-1285.
    27. Christine L. Exley, 2015. "Excusing Selfishness in Charitable Giving: The Role of Risk," Discussion Papers 15-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    28. Peter Schwardmann & Egon Tripodi & Joël J. van der Weele, 2019. "Self-Persuasion: Evidence from Field Experiments at Two International Debating Competitions," CESifo Working Paper Series 7946, CESifo.
    29. Zachary Grossman, 2014. "Strategic Ignorance and the Robustness of Social Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(11), pages 2659-2665, November.
    30. Charlotte Saucet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Motivated memory in dictator games," Post-Print halshs-02193604, HAL.
    31. Ananda Ganguly & Joshua Tasoff, 2017. "Fantasy and Dread: The Demand for Information and the Consumption Utility of the Future," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(12), pages 4037-4060, December.
    32. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "Honesty in a Model of Strategic Information Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1032-1036, December.
    33. Gabriele Paolacci & Jesse Chandler & Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis, 2010. "Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(5), pages 411-419, August.
    34. Charlotte Saucet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Motivated Memory in Dictator Games," Working Papers halshs-01981626, HAL.
    35. Ernst Fehr & Antonio Rangel, 2011. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Economic Choice--Recent Advances," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 3-30, Fall.
    36. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
    37. Joel Sobel, 2020. "Lying and Deception in Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(3), pages 907-947.
    38. Botond Koszegi & Adam Szeidl, 2013. "A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 53-104.
    39. Babcock, Linda, et al, 1995. "Biased Judgments of Fairness in Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1337-1343, December.
    40. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    41. Shalvi, Shaul & Dana, Jason & Handgraaf, Michel J.J. & De Dreu, Carsten K.W., 2011. "Justified ethicality: Observing desired counterfactuals modifies ethical perceptions and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 181-190, July.
    42. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    43. Palan, Stefan & Schitter, Christian, 2018. "Prolific.ac—A subject pool for online experiments," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 22-27.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    belief distortion; morality; sophistication; commitment; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:_8529. 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.