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Passive Choices and Cognitive Spillovers

Author

Listed:
  • Altmann, Steffen

    () (IZA and University of Copenhagen)

  • Grunewald, Andreas

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Radbruch, Jonas

    () (IZA)

Abstract

Passive behavior is ubiquitous - even when facing various alternatives to choose from, people commonly fail to take decisions. This paper provides evidence on the cognitive foundations of such "passive choices" and studies implications for policies that encourage active decision-making. In an experiment designed to study passive behavior, we document three main results. First, we demonstrate that scarcity of cognitive resources leads to passive behavior. Second, policies that encourage active choice succeed in reducing passivity and improve decisions in the targeted domain. Third, however, these benefits of choice-promoting policies come at the cost of negative cognitive spillovers to other domains.

Suggested Citation

  • Altmann, Steffen & Grunewald, Andreas & Radbruch, Jonas, 2019. "Passive Choices and Cognitive Spillovers," IZA Discussion Papers 12337, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12337
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Fabian Duarte & Justine S. Hastings, 2012. "Fettered Consumers and Sophisticated Firms: Evidence from Mexico's Privatized Social Security Market," NBER Working Papers 18582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Deck, Cary & Jahedi, Salar, 2015. "The effect of cognitive load on economic decision making: A survey and new experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 97-119.
    8. Emma Boswell Dean & Frank Schilbach & Heather Schofield, 2017. "Poverty and Cognitive Function," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Poverty Traps, pages 57-118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    passivity; cognitive resources; scarcity; spillover effects; active decision-making; default options;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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