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Department of Economics, Lund University Working Papers, Department of Economics, Lund University

No 2013:17:
Strategic Self-Ignorance

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

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 percent) 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.

Keywords: Experiment; Information; Ignorance; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D03; D81; D83; (follow links to similar papers)

38 pages, May 28, 2013

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