The Better is the Enemy of the Good
Christine L. Exley () and
Additional contact information
Christine L. Exley: Harvard Business School
Judd Kessler: University of Pennsylvania
No 2017-068, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group
In standard economic theory, information helps agents optimize. But providing agents with information about the benefits of an action often fails to encourage that action. This paper proposes a far-reaching behavioral explanation: information may make salient that the benefits of taking an action could be improved and agents may see the potential for improvement as a reason to avoid the action. In an experiment, making more salient how a donation could be improved significantly decreases giving. Self-serving motives dramatically magnify the effect, suggesting why information may be particularly ineffective at encouraging privately costly actions with social or future benefits.
Keywords: experiment; information acquisition; philanthropy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 C91 D64 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Exley_ ... _BetterEnemyGood.pdf First version, August 27, 2017 (application/pdf)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hka:wpaper:2017-068
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Jennifer Pachon ().