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The Blissful Ignorance Effect: Pre- versus Post-action Effects on Outcome Expectancies Arising from Precise and Vague Information

Himanshu Mishra, Baba Shiv, Dhananjay Nayakankuppam
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/591104 573-585 First published online: 1 December 2008


This article examines the effects on outcome expectancies of precise versus vague information across two contexts: prior to an action taken by the consumer (pre-action) and after the action is taken (post-action). Across three experiments, we show that with vague information individuals are more optimistic of outcomes post-action compared to pre-action; this difference is attenuated with precise information. We term this inconsistency the blissful ignorance effect and show that it arises due to the interplay of two goals in decision making, the goal to arrive at a desired conclusion (directional goal) and the goal to be accurate (accuracy goal) about one's outcome expectancies.

  • Behavioral Decision Theory
  • Economic Psychology
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Motivation/Desires/Goals
  • Cognitive Processes
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