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Do Self-Committers Mind Commitment by Others? An Experiment on Weak Paternalism

Listed author(s):
  • Matthias Uhl


    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, IMPRS "Uncertainty", Jena, Germany)

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    Weak paternalism commits protégés to their own plans. This experiment addresses the question of whether protégés judge weakly paternalistic acts primarily by means of their consequences or on principle grounds. Subjects receive a reward for showing up to the laboratory early the next morning which decreases in time. Protégés can either self-commit to a planned time or self-liberate by preserving spontaneity. By making this binary choice protégés express their preference regarding liberty. Simultaneously, another subject is either paternalistic or liberal by making an analogous choice for them. We analyze protégés' attitudes toward both policy styles via costly reward choices. If only consequences matter, self-committers should appreciate paternalism while self-liberators should condemn it. A deontological aversion against paternalism would negate a difference between both groups. Differing judgments constitute a consequentialist pattern. However, this pattern is driven by self-liberators' clear judgments. For self-committers also a norm of non-interference into others' liberty can be identified.

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    Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2010-055.

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    Date of creation: 24 Aug 2010
    Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-055
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    1. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
    2. Peter J. Hammond, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 159-173.
    3. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
    4. 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.
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