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Strategic Self-Ignorance

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Abstract

We examine strategic self-ignorance—the use of ignorance as an excuse to over-indulge in pleasurable activities that may be harmful to one’s future self. Our model shows that guilt aversion provides a behavioral rationale for present-biased agents to avoid information about negative future impacts of such activities. We then confront our model with data from an experiment using prepared, restaurant-style meals—a good that is transparent in immediate pleasure (taste) but non-transparent in future harm (calories). Our results support the notion that strategic self-ignorance matters: nearly three of five subjects (58 percent) chose to ignore free information on calorie content, leading at-risk subjects to consume significantly more calories. We also find evidence consistent with our model on the determinants of strategic self-ignorance.

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  • Thunström, Linda & Nordström, Jonas & Shogren, Jason F. & Ehmke, Mariah & van 't Veld, Klaas, 2013. "Strategic Self-Ignorance," Working Papers 2013:17, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_017
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    1. Strategic self-ignorance
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-08-14 19:52:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Lackner & Hendrik Sonnabend, 2017. "Coping with advantageous inequity - Field evidence from professional penalty kicking," Economics working papers 2017-21, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Linda Thunström & Klaas van ’t Veld & Jason F. Shogren & Jonas Nordström, 2014. "On strategic ignorance of environmental harm and social norms," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 124(2), pages 195-214.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experiment; Information; Ignorance;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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