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Paying for Confidence: An Experimental Study of the Demand for Non-Instrumental Information


  • Eliaz, Kfir
  • Schotter, Andrew


This paper presents experimental evidence that when individuals are about to make a given decision under risk, they are willing to pay for information on the likelihood that this decision is ex-post optimal, even if this information will not affect their decision. Our findings suggest that this demand for non-instrumental information is caused by what we refer to as a "confidence effect": the desire to increase one’s posterior belief by ruling out "bad news", even when such news would have no effect on one’s decision. We conduct various treatments to show that our subjects’ behavior is not likely to be caused by an intrinsic preference for information, failure of backward induction or an attempt to minimize thinking costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Eliaz, Kfir & Schotter, Andrew, 2009. "Paying for Confidence: An Experimental Study of the Demand for Non-Instrumental Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 7415, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7415

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ortoleva, Pietro, 2013. "The price of flexibility: Towards a theory of Thinking Aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 903-934.
    2. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2005. "Optimal Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1092-1118, September.
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    5. Botond Kőszegi, 2006. "Emotional Agency," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 121-155.
    6. Grant, Simon & Kajii, Atsushi & Polak, Ben, 1998. "Intrinsic Preference for Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 233-259, December.
    7. Celen, Bogachan & Hyndman, Kyle, 2006. "Endogenous Network Formation In the Laboratory," MPRA Paper 1440, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Individual Preferences, Monetary Gambles, and Stock Market Participation: A Case for Narrow Framing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1069-1090, September.
    9. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
    10. Kfir Eliaz & Andrew Schotter, 2007. "Experimental Testing of Intrinsic Preferences for NonInstrumental Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 166-169, May.
    11. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Can anticipatory feelings explain anomalous choices of information sources?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 87-104, July.
    12. Scott, Robert C & Horvath, Philip A, 1980. " On the Direction of Preference for Moments of Higher Order Than the Variance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(4), pages 915-919, September.
    13. Dorothea Kübler & Georg Weizsäcker, 2004. "Limited Depth of Reasoning and Failure of Cascade Formation in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 425-441.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barton, Jared & Rodet, Cortney, 2015. "Are political statements only expressive? An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 174-186.
    2. Huck, Steffen & Szech, Nora & Wenner, Lukas M., 2017. "More effort with less pay: On information avoidance, optimistic beliefs, and performance," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2015-304r2, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Markus M. Mobius & Muriel Niederle & Paul Niehaus & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2011. "Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 17014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1468-1488 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Fels, Markus, 2015. "On the value of information: Why people reject medical tests," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Au, Pak Hung, 2016. "Price reaction and disagreement over public signal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 81-106.
    7. Bogaçhan Çelen & Kyle Hyndman, 2012. "Social Learning Through Endogenous Information Acquisition: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1525-1548, August.
    8. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:1-23 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Anticipatory feelings; Disjunction effect; Non-instrumental information; Thinking costs;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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