The impact of the level of responsibility on choices under risk: the role of blame

Gilbert G. Eijkelenboom, Ingrid Rohde, Alexander Vostroknutov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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We use a within-subjects design to study how responsibility for the payoffs of different number of others influences the choices under risk, and how choosing together with another person changes these decisions. After controlling for the regression to the mean, we find a weak effect of responsibility for one other person on risk taking as compared to choosing just for oneself. We, however, do find that the number of others influenced by the choice matters: when it increases from one to three, risk averse subjects choose riskier options and risk loving subjects choose more cautiously, which pushes the choices towards the modal risk preferences in the population. Mutual responsibility makes choices for others shift even more in the same direction. The observed behavior is in accordance with the blame avoidance hypothesis: decision makers with responsibility try to reduce the amount of blame for their choices, which is minimal when the choices for others are consistent with what they would have chosen for themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-814
Number of pages21
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Responsibility
  • Blame
  • Risk preferences
  • Choice in groups

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