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Moral Decision and Information Aversion

Listed author(s):
  • Hitoshi Matsushima

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

This paper investigates an individual who has the rule-based and consequence-based moral tastes and has time-inconsistent intertemporal preferences caused by immediate gratification. The individual decides whether to undertake the activity that maximizes her own self-interest, but is uncertain whether it harms others. The individual at the earlier stage decides whether to access the information channel as the commitment devise for avoidance of preference reversals between the earlier-stage and later-stage selves, but is uncertain about whether this access is beneficial. The decision whether to access the information channel greatly influences the probability that social harm occurs. The relation between moral taste and pattern of information acquisition is clarified in the following way. The rule-based individual follows the morally bad pattern of information acquisition, while the consequence-based individual follows the morally good pattern. The individual with moral constraint follows the morally bad pattern if the moral constraint improves the earlier-stage self's morality, while she follows the morally good pattern if the moral constraint only serves to avoid preference reversals. It is shown that even if the access is beneficial, the individual is likely to misperceive it as being against her own interest and be averse to costless information.

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Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-64.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Nov 1999
Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:99cf64
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