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Do I really want to know? A cognitive dissonance-based explanation of other-regarding behavior

Author

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  • Astrid Matthey

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Tobias Regner

    () (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

Abstract

We investigate to what extent genuine social preferences can explain observed other-regarding behavior. In a dictator game variant subjects can choose whether to learn about the consequences of their choice for the receiver. We find that a majority of subjects showing other-regarding behavior when the payoffs of the receiver are known, choose to ignore these consequences if possible. This behavior is inconsistent with preferences about outcomes. Other-regarding behavior may also be explained by avoiding cognitive dissonance as in Konow (2000). Our experiment's choice data is in line with this approach. In addition, we successfully relate individual behavior to proxies for cognitive dissonance.

Suggested Citation

  • Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2010. "Do I really want to know? A cognitive dissonance-based explanation of other-regarding behavior," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-077, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-077
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Dissonance, ignorance & Lib Dems
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2010-11-24 18:36:08

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    3. Sutan, Angela & Grolleau, Gilles & Mateu, Guillermo & Vranceanu, Radu, 2018. "“Facta non verba”: An experiment on pledging and giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 1-15.
    4. Serra-Garcia, Marta & Szech, Nora, 2018. "The (in)elasticity of moral ignorance," Working Paper Series in Economics 120, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Management.
    5. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2019. "Motivated Errors," NBER Working Papers 26595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    12. Feiler, Lauren, 2014. "Testing models of information avoidance with binary choice dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 253-267.
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    15. Leonidas Spiliopoulos & Andreas Ortmann, 2018. "The BCD of response time analysis in experimental economics," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(2), pages 383-433, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; social dilemma; cognitive dissonance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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