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Games 2011, 2(1), 114-135; doi:10.3390/g2010114

Do I Really Want to Know? A Cognitive Dissonance-Based Explanation of Other-Regarding Behavior

Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, Kahlaische Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
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Received: 23 December 2010 / Accepted: 15 February 2011 / Published: 18 February 2011
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Abstract

We investigate to what extent genuine social preferences can explain observed other-regarding behavior. In a dictator game variant subjects can choose whether to learn about the consequences of their choice for the receiver. We find that a majority of subjects showing other-regarding behavior when the payoffs of the receiver are known, choose to ignore these consequences if possible. This behavior is inconsistent with preferences about outcomes. Other-regarding behavior may also be explained by avoiding cognitive dissonance as in Konow (2000). Our experiment’s choice data is in line with this approach. In addition, we successfully relate individual behavior to proxies for cognitive dissonance.
Keywords: social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; cognitive dissonance social preferences; other-regarding behavior; experiments; cognitive dissonance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Matthey, A.; Regner, T. Do I Really Want to Know? A Cognitive Dissonance-Based Explanation of Other-Regarding Behavior. Games 2011, 2, 114-135.

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