Strategic self-ignorance

Linda Thunström, Jonas Nordström, Jason F. Shogren, Mariah Ehmke, Klaas van't Veld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (SciVal)


We examine strategic self-ignorance—the use of ignorance as an excuse to over-indulge in pleasurable activities that may be harmful to one’s future self. Our model shows that guilt aversion provides a behavioral rationale for present-biased agents to avoid information about negative future impacts of such activities. We then confront our model with data from an experiment using prepared, restaurant-style meals—a good that is transparent in immediate pleasure (taste) but non-transparent in future harm (calories). Our results support the notion that strategic self-ignorance matters: nearly three of five subjects (58%) chose to ignore free information on calorie content, leading at-risk subjects to consume significantly more calories. We also find evidence consistent with our model on the determinants of strategic self-ignorance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-136
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 15

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economics


  • Strategic ignorance
  • Calorie information avoidance
  • Guilt aversion
  • Self-control
  • D03
  • D81
  • D83


Dive into the research topics of 'Strategic self-ignorance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this