Investigating Motivations for Information Avoidance - The Role of Value of Information

Last registered on September 30, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

Investigating Motivations for Information Avoidance - The Role of Value of Information
Initial registration date
September 29, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 30, 2019, 1:30 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

NHH- Norges Handelshøyskolen

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
NHH-Norges Handelshøyskole

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
A lot of the literature on active information avoidance has identified a clear objective for people to
avoid information: Self-Image protection. In these studies, this happens through willful ignorance
about a specific attribute of themselves. This research has identified several factors that influence
this importance and identified intelligence and attractiveness as reliable categories. This has also
been shown in various experiments, where people that get a bad but imprecise
signal about either their IQ or attractiveness have a positive willingness to pay to avoid more
precise information about that. Potentially, this behavior can be hurtful in other instances because
a more precise knowledge of these facts could lead to better outcomes in markets (finding a more
suitable career path, acting more informed in the dating market etc.). In our first experiment we
used a general intelligence test to investigate this behavior (conducted at same place in October 2018). Our main questions
were to what extent people avoid potentially hurtful information and are they willing to pay for it.
Our results show two main results:
1- Individuals are willing to pay not to learn their relative rank in a general intelligence test
2-Almost half of the sample (N=400) didn’t chose to learn their rank when there is a clear monetary
gain of learning.
In the present experiment we use a similar framework with neutral information in terms of ego
utility to show the change in avoidance when there is only clear instrumentality of information to reach higher monetary gain. This study focuses on two main questions:
1- What is the impact of
ego relevant information on avoidance keeping the value of information constant?
2- Does avoidance
respond to value of information when the instrumental of information is clearly higher?
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ay, Fehime Ceren and Stefan Meißner. 2019. "Investigating Motivations for Information Avoidance - The Role of Value of Information ." AEA RCT Registry. September 30.
Experimental Details


In the present experiment the main aim is to investigate how avoidance responds to value of information in terms of instrumentality to reach higher monetary gains when there is no ego-utility of the information (neutral information).
For that purpose, we provide a 2x2 design in which subjects are assigned to treatments either they are asked to pay for information or asked to pay to avoid information. Under these two treatments value of information changes as high or low, the value of information is the instrumentality.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Willingness to pay and avoid in treatments by the value of information.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We expect wtp and wta to respond value of information, participants are expected to ask for more information when it can help them to reach higher monetary outcomes (and avoid less).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Relation of WTA and WTP with cognitive abilities and risk preferences
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Participants are expected to avoid more if they tend to take higher risks.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In this experiment, we use a 2x2 design to investogate wtp and wta for a completely neutral information with clear monetary value.
Participants are taking an IQ test and then asked to guess a random number drawn by the computer. If their guess is correct they earn an extra bonus payment. In the 2 main treatments, participants are asked to pay to get or pay to avoid seeing a set of numbers includig the actual number. If they choose to see, they can revise their guess. We have 2 variations for the value of information, in high value condition participants see 2 random numbers which give them the chance to earn the onus with 50% and in low value condition they see set of 4 numbers.
Experimental Design Details
In the first stage of the experiment participants take part in an IQ-test. The test consists of 25
questions and participants get 8 minutes to fill out the test. Afterwards, they are informed that
they have to guess the random number drawn by the computer. Each session consists of 55-60
Participants are paid based on the accuracy of their guess. If their guess is within 5 percentage
points of the actual share, they earn 80 Norwegian Kroner.
In the next step, participants are randomly selected into two different treatments. They are
assigned to treatment within sessions. In treatment T1-WTP, participants are asked for their maximum
willingness to pay to find out the information which is set of 4 numbers or 2 numbers and
one of them is the actual random number in that session.2 For that purpose, they are given 50kr as
an additional bonus. Participants then take part in a BDM-auction in which they have to state their
maximum willingness to pay for that information.
In treatment T2-WTA, participants are asked for their maximum willingness to pay to avoid
the information. For that purpose, they are given 50kr as an additional bonus. Participants take
part in a BDM-auction in which they have to state their maximum willingness to pay to not see the
numbers in the condition they are assigned to.
If the participant finds out the actual random number, they can revise their previous guess and
ensure that they earn the 80kr.
After they finished the revision, they are informed about their payment. To finish the experiment,
they are asked to answer a post-experimental survey.
Randomization Method
By computer
Randomization Unit
Individual level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We are planning to recruit 400 subjects and 100 in each condition.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400, 100 each
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We expect 0.9 power with 0.3 effect size and 400 participnats. Details can be seen in the submitted document.
Supporting Documents and Materials


Document Name
PAP in Pdf format
Document Type
Document Description
This document is the pre analysis plan we prepared for this experiment.
PAP in Pdf format

MD5: 826c3a516ff2d5d52f2534325d2863a5

SHA1: 9b82e84b2b101c6f0d50643fa39b79875931e3d2

Uploaded At: September 29, 2019


Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Norwegian School of Economics- Centre of Ethics
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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Program Files

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Reports, Papers & Other Materials

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