Strategic self-ignorance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Wyoming
  • University of Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics

Keywords

  • Strategic ignorance , Calorie information avoidance, Guilt aversion , Self-control, D03 , D81 , D83
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-136
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Volume52
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 15
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes