The Network for Integrated Behavioural Science  
University of Nottingham


This chapter reviews models of deliberate ignorance and argues that models developed in both psychology and economics may be useful in understanding different aspects of deliberate ignorance. Such models must specify what quantity is increased at the expense of the potential benefits of the ignored information. A model classification is developed based on the quantity that different models assumed to be so increased. Three broad classes of relevant models are identified: (a) models that assume that utility associated with the content of beliefs may be increased by deliberate ignorance, (b) models that assume that the consistency of beliefs with each other or with a sense of identity may be increased by deliberate ignorance, and (c) models that assume that the quality of decision making may be increased by deliberate ignorance. Gaps in the literature are identified. In particular, it is suggested that insufficient attention has been given to the distinction between the effects on an agent’s utility of acquiring information (a one-off change) and possession of information (being in a steady-state of changed beliefs). Ultimately, models of deliberate ignorance will need to address the relationship between people’s (often partial and contradictory) knowledge about the world and their reasoning about that world.

Details: Models of deliberate ignorance in individual choice. In Hertwig, R and Engel, C (Eds) Deliberate Ignorance: Choosing Not to Know. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 29, (pp. 121-137). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Authors: Gordon D. A. Brown and Lukasz Walasek



Posted on Wednesday 2nd March 2022

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