The value of useless information
There are many situations in which individuals have a choice of whether or not to observe eventual outcomes. In these instances, individuals often prefer to remain ignorant. These contexts are outside the scope of analysis of the standard von Neumann-Morgenstern (vNM) expected utility model, which does not distinguish between lotteries for which the agent sees the final outcome and those for which he does not. I develop a simple model that admits preferences for making an observation or for remaining in doubt. I then use this model to analyze the connection between preferences of this nature and risk-attitude. This framework accommodates a wide array of behavioral patterns that violate the vNM model, and that may not seem related, prima facie. For instance, it admits self-handicapping, in which an agent chooses to impair his own performance. It also accommodates a status quo bias without having recourse to framing effects, or to an explicit definition of reference points. In a political economy context, voters have strict incentives to shield themselves from information. In settings with other-regarding preferences, this model predicts observed behavior that seems inconsistent with either altruism or self-interested behavior.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Brunnermeier, Markus K & Parker, Jonathan A, 2004.
CEPR Discussion Papers
4656, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," NBER Working Papers 10707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jonathan Parker & Markus K Brunnermeier, 2002. "Optimal Expectations," FMG Discussion Papers dp434, Financial Markets Group.
- Jonathan A. Parker & Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 426, Econometric Society.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Optimal expectations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24954, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Optimal Expectations," Working Papers 146, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics.
- Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
- Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
- Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006.
"Belief in Just World and Redistributive Politics,"
- Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
- Jean Tirole & Roland Benabou, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," 2004 Meeting Papers 15, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," Papers 08-15-2005a, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
- Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 4952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," NBER Working Papers 11208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Grant, Simon & Kajii, Atsushi & Polak, Ben, 1998.
"Intrinsic Preference for Information,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 233-259, December.
- Uzi Segal, 1989.
"Two-Stage Lotteries Without the Reduction Axiom,"
UCLA Economics Working Papers
552, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, 03.
- Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
- Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
- Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
- Grant, S & Kajii, A & Polak, B, 1997.
"Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Recursive Non-Expected Utility Models,"
324, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
- Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Ben Polak, 2000. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Recursive Non-Expected Utility Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 425-434, March.
- Diecidue, E. & Wakker, P.P., 2000.
"On the Intuition of Rank-Dependent Utility,"
2000-74, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
- Sugden Robert, 1993. "An Axiomatic Foundation for Regret Theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 159-180, June.
- Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
- Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
- Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978.
"Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory,"
Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
- David M Kreps & Evan L Porteus, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000009, David K. Levine.
- Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
- Dillenberger, David, 2008. "Preferences for One-Shot Resolution of Uncertainty and Allais-Type Behavior," MPRA Paper 8342, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Dekel, Eddie, 1986. "An axiomatic characterization of preferences under uncertainty: Weakening the independence axiom," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 304-318, December.
- Machina, Mark J, 1987. "Choice under Uncertainty: Problems Solved and Unsolved," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 121-54, Summer.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1313. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.