Inconvenient Truths: Determinants of Strategic Ignorance in Moral Dilemmas

18 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2013 Last revised: 23 Apr 2014

See all articles by Joel J. van der Weele

Joel J. van der Weele

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and political Decision making (CREED); Tinbergen Institute; Center for Financial Studies (CFS)

Date Written: April 23, 2014

Abstract

People often have incomplete information about the consequences of their actions for the payoffs of others. In an experimental allocation game I investigate how the choice to learn about such consequences depends on the costs and benefits of altruistic actions. The results show an asymmetric pattern: while the size of others' potential benefit has little effect, ignorance and selfish behavior go up when information is more `inconvenient', i.e. the fair/efficient alternative is more costly to the decision maker. Thus, in situations of payoff uncertainty, subsidizing fair choices affects prosocial behavior both directly and by increasing the willingness to confront negative consequences of one's actions.

Keywords: strategic ignorance, prosocial behavior, dictator games

JEL Classification: D83, C72, C91

Suggested Citation

van der Weele, Joel J., Inconvenient Truths: Determinants of Strategic Ignorance in Moral Dilemmas (April 23, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2247288 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2247288

Joel J. Van der Weele (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and political Decision making (CREED) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/joelvdweele/

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Center for Financial Studies (CFS) ( email )

Gr├╝neburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

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