Rational Truth-Avoidance and Self-Esteem

14 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2009

See all articles by David Andolfatto

David Andolfatto

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics; Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Gordon M. Myers

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Abstract

We assume that people have beliefs about their abilities that generate self-esteem, and that self-esteem is valued intrinsically. Individuals face two choices; one of which strictly dominates the other in a pecuniary sense, but necessarily involves gathering information concerning their ability. We lay out the circumstances under which an individual may find it rational to reject the dominant choice, an act that, in psychology is described as avoiding the situation. We then go on to show that the incentive to avoid the truth is increasing in income/wealth and decreasing in self-esteem, the perceived accuracy of one's self-assessment, and the role that luck plays in generating opportunities.

(On part des postulats que les gens ont des croyances quant à leurs habiletés et que ces croyances engendrent l'estime de soi, et que l'estime de soi est valorisée en soi. Des individus sont confrontés à une situation de choix entre deux possibilités: l'une de ces possibilités domine strictement l'autre au plan pécuniaire, mais nécessite la cueillette de renseignements concernant les habiletés de la personne. On développe un cadre dans lequel un individu peut trouver rationnel de ne pas choisir le possible dominant; un choix que l'on nomme en psychologie éviter la situation'. On montre ensuite que l'incitation àéviter la vérité augmente à proportion que le revenu et la richesse s'accroissent mais diminue à mesure que l'estime de soi, le sens qu'on est exact dans son auto-évaluation, et l'importance qu'on accorde à la chance dans la genèse des opportunités s'accroissent.)

Suggested Citation

Andolfatto, David and Mongrain, Steeve and Myers, Gordon M., Rational Truth-Avoidance and Self-Esteem. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 141-154, February/février 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1330600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5982.2008.01502.x

David Andolfatto (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
604 291-5825 (Phone)
604 291-5944 (Fax)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ( email )

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
604-291-3547 (Phone)
604-291-5944 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sfu.ca/~mongrain/

Gordon M. Myers

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
604-291-3409 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: www.sfu.ca/~gmmyers

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
531
PlumX Metrics