Strategic Self-Ignorance

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We examine strategic self-ignorance—the use of ignorance as an excuse to overindulge 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.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLund
PublisherDepartment of Economics, Lund University
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 2013
SeriesWorking Paper Department of Economics, Lund University
Number2013:17

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