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http://ssrn.com/abstract=2015956
 
 

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Avoiding the Risk of Responsibility by Seeking Uncertainty: Responsibility Aversion and Preference for Indirect Agency When Choosing for Others


James Leonhardt


University of California, Irvine

L. Robin Keller


University of California, Irvine - Operations and Decision Technologies (ODT)

Connie Pechmann


University of California, Irvine - Marketing Area

October 1, 2011

Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 405-413, 2011

Abstract:     
Uncertainty-seeking behavior is currently understood as the result of loss aversion which motivates a preference for the possibility to avoid or lessen an otherwise sure loss. However, when choosing among negative options on behalf of others, we offer responsibility aversion as another possible motive for uncertainty-seeking behavior. Within our conceptual model, responsibility aversion is defined as the preference to minimize one's causal role in outcome generation. Compared to certain options, uncertain options lessen the decision maker's causal role in outcome generation because the outcomes are partially determined by chance. The presence of chance increases indirect agency on behalf of the decision maker and lessens his or her perceived risk of responsibility. The results of five studies support a responsibility aversion motivation behind uncertainty-seeking behavior.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: uncertainty, responsibility, loss aversion, indirect agency, decision making, indirect harm, Asian disease problem

JEL Classification: C91, D80, M31

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Date posted: March 5, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Leonhardt, James and Keller, L. Robin and Pechmann, Connie, Avoiding the Risk of Responsibility by Seeking Uncertainty: Responsibility Aversion and Preference for Indirect Agency When Choosing for Others (October 1, 2011). Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 405-413, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2015956

Contact Information

James Leonhardt (Contact Author)
University of California, Irvine ( email )
Irvine, CA California 92697-3125
United States
L. Robin Keller
University of California, Irvine - Operations and Decision Technologies (ODT) ( email )
Irvine, CA 92697
United States
Connie Pechmann
University of California, Irvine - Marketing Area ( email )
Irvine, CA
United States
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