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A rich literature finds that individuals avoid information and speculates that avoidance is driven by image concerns. This paper provides the first direct test of whether individuals avoid information because of image concerns. We build off of a classic paradigm, introducing a control condition that makes minimal changes to eliminate the role of image concerns while keeping other key features of the environment unchanged. Data from 6,421 experimental subjects shows that image concerns play a role in driving information avoidance, but a role that is substantially smaller-less than half of the magnitude-than the common approach in the literature would suggest.
information avoidance, image concerns
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This project was supported by Harvard Business School and by the Wharton Behavioral Lab. It was also supported through a Quartet Pilot Research award and was funded by the Boettner Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2022 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.
For very helpful feedback on this paper, we thank Russell Golrnan, Zachary Grossman, Davide Pace, Matthew Rabin, Joshua Schwartzstein, Marta Serra Garcia, Joel van der Weele, and Roberto Weber
Date Posted: 26 October 2022