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Rational truth‐avoidance and self‐esteem

David Andolfatto (), Steeve Mongrain () and Gordon Myers

Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, 2009, vol. 42, issue 1, 141-154

Abstract: Abstract We assume that people have beliefs about their abilities that generate self‐esteem, and that self‐esteem is valued intrinsically. Individuals face two choices; one of which strictly dominates the other in a pecuniary sense, but necessarily involves gathering information concerning their ability. We lay out the circumstances under which an individual may find it rational to reject the dominant choice, an act that, in psychology is described as avoiding the situation. We then go on to show that the incentive to avoid the truth is increasing in income/wealth and decreasing in self‐esteem, the perceived accuracy of one's self‐assessment, and the role that luck plays in generating opportunities. On part des postulats que les gens ont des croyances quant à leurs habiletés et que ces croyances engendrent l'estime de soi, et que l'estime de soi est valorisée en soi. Des individus sont confrontés à une situation de choix entre deux possibilités: l'une de ces possibilités domine strictement l'autre au plan pécuniaire, mais nécessite la cueillette de renseignements concernant les habiletés de la personne. On développe un cadre dans lequel un individu peut trouver rationnel de ne pas choisir le possible dominant; un choix que l'on nomme en psychologie ‘éviter la situation'. On montre ensuite que l'incitation àéviter la vérité augmente à proportion que le revenu et la richesse s'accroissent mais diminue à mesure que l'estime de soi, le sens qu'on est exact dans son auto‐évaluation, et l'importance qu'on accorde à la chance dans la genèse des opportunités – s'accroissent.

Date: 2009
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https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5982.2008.01502.x

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Journal Article: Rational truth-avoidance and self-esteem (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Rational Truth-Avoidance and Self-Esteem (2007) Downloads
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