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Contribution Details

Type Working Paper
Scope Discipline-based scholarship
Title Does willful ignorance deflect punishment? – An experimental study
Organization Unit
  • Björn Bartling
  • Florian Engl
  • Roberto A. Weber
  • English
Institution University of Zurich
Series Name Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number 125
ISSN 1664-7041
Number of Pages 40
Date 2013
Abstract Text This paper studies whether people can avoid punishment by remaining willfully ignorant about possible negative consequences of their actions for others. We employ a laboratory experiment, using modified dictator games in which a dictator can remain willfully ignorant about the payoff consequences of his decision for a receiver. A third party can punish the dictator after observing the dictator’s decision and the resulting payoffs. On the one hand, willfully ignorant dictators are punished less if their actions lead to unfair outcomes than dictators who reveal the consequences before implementing the same outcome. On the other hand, willfully ignorant dictators are punished more than revealing dictators if their actions do not lead to unfair outcomes. We conclude that willful ignorance can circumvent blame when unfair outcomes result, but that the act of remaining willfully ignorant is itself punished, regardless of the outcome.
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Keywords Willful ignorance, third party punishment, dictator game, fairness,, Gerechtigkeit, Strafe, Verhalten, Entscheidungsverhalten, Entscheidungstheorie, Verhaltensökonomie, Präferenz