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Willful Ignorance: a Meta-Analysis
Research endeavors in the last two decades have highlighted that decision making is prone to willful ignorance. While deliberate avoidance is beneficial to the decision maker to maximize self-interest, this behavior can induce adverse externalities to others, from another individual in the small scale of a social interaction, to the labor force in the large scale of a consumer market. To obtain a comprehensive understanding of this topic, we present the first meta-analysis on willful ignorance. The aggregated results from 34 papers indicate that in an ambiguous setting, a significant amount of subjects rely on ignorance to make the selfish choice while protecting themselves from learning the impact of their action. We propose an explanation for this deliberate tendency as a violation of one’s rationality. Most notably, our study highlights the need for interventions that promote thoughtful and sustainable decision making.