Daniele Pennesi (Collegio Carlo Alberto)
15 November 2021 @ 12:00 - 13:00
- Past event
“Identity and information acquisition“
Abstract. This paper proposes a theory of identity protection and studies its implications for information acquisition. Identity prescribes behaviors, and violating the prescriptions in favor of actions with higher material value is cognitively costly. Information has an ambiguous value because it can reduce or exacerbate the trade-off between material benefits and identity protection. The theory rationalizes information avoidance observed in various domains, including willful ignorance in social dilemmas. The cost of information, however, is not necessarily monotone in the quality of information, so that inferior information can threaten the identity more–hence it is more likely to be avoided–than better information. Although beliefs do not have hedonic value, the theory is consistent with a demand for beliefs that leads to acquiring or rejecting non-instrumental information. A key prediction of the theory, a potential desire to have fewer options, provides an identity-based explanation for excess entry in competitive environments, under-use of flexible work arrangements, and ethnic-specific differences in human capital accumulation. The preference for commitment is also consistent with a form of destructive behavior, in which the individual commits to payoff-inferior actions.