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Why Blame?

Author

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  • Mehmet Gurdal
  • Joshua B. Miller
  • Aldo Rustichini

Abstract

We provide experimental evidence that subjects blame others based on events they are not responsible for. In our experiment an agent chooses between a lottery and a safe asset; payment from the chosen option goes to a principal who then decides how much to allocate between the agent and a third party. We observe widespread blame: regardless of their choice, agents are blamed by principals for the outcome of the lottery, an event they are not responsible for. We provide an explanation of this apparently irrational behavior with a delegated-expertise principal-agent model, the subjects’ salient perturbation of the environment. JEL Classification Numbers: C92; D63; C79. Keywords: Experiments; Rationality; Fairness

Suggested Citation

  • Mehmet Gurdal & Joshua B. Miller & Aldo Rustichini, 2013. "Why Blame?," Working Papers 494, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:494
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
    3. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    4. Dirk Jenter & Fadi Kanaan, 2015. "CEO Turnover and Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(5), pages 2155-2184, October.
    5. Peter P. Wakker, 2008. "Explaining the characteristics of the power (CRRA) utility family," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(12), pages 1329-1344.
    6. 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.
    7. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    10. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    11. Gary Charness & David I. Levine, 2007. "Intention and Stochastic Outcomes: An Experimental study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1051-1072, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
    2. Bartling, Björn & Engl, Florian & Weber, Roberto A., 2014. "Does willful ignorance deflect punishment? – An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 512-524.
    3. Pan, Xiaofei & Xiao, Erte, 2016. "It’s not just the thought that counts: An experimental study on the hidden cost of giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 22-31.
    4. Aidin Hajikhameneh & Jared Rubin, 2017. "Reputation and Multilateral Punishment under Uncertainty," Working Papers 17-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. repec:eee:jetheo:v:169:y:2017:i:c:p:62-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Persson, Emil, 2016. "Frustration and Anger in Games: A First Empirical Test of the Theory," Working Papers in Economics 647, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other

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