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How reliable are value judgements about health inequality aversion? Results of two experimental studies

Monday 5 January 2015, 2.00PM to 3.15pm

Speaker(s): Shehzad Ali, Department of Health Sciences & Centre for Health Economics, University of York

Abstract:Questionnaire methods used to quantify the magnitude of inequality aversion are vulnerable to cognitive biases. We conducted two experimental studies to understand these biases. In study 1, we subjected various forms of a standard questionnaire instrument for eliciting value judgements about social health inequality aversion to test for potential cognitive effects. In study 2, we estimated the impact of two “slow thinking” interventions on expressed health inequality aversion. The interventions were a video animation, exposing subjects to rival points of view, and an interactive computer-based version of the questionnaire, providing feedback on implied trade-offs between health inequality and sum total health. In study 1, we found that the proportion of respondents expressing extreme inequality aversion fell with a concrete rather than abstract inequality reduction scenario (by 19 percentage points) and an online rather than face-to-face mode of administration (by 11-21 percentage points). However, using small inequality reductions rather than large made little difference, as did population-level rather than individual-level descriptions. In study 2, we found large effects of both slow thinking interventions, in moderating responses away from an apparently extreme degree of inequality aversion.  We conclude that standard questionnaire methods may over-estimate inequality aversion by encouraging subjects to treat equality as an all-or-nothing “sacred value”, rather than to engage in the more cognitively demanding task of weighing inequality reductions against increases in sum total outcomes.

Location: ARRC Auditorium A/RC/014

Who to contact

For more information on these seminars, contact:

Adrian Villasenor
Adrian Villasenor-Lopez
Dacheng Huo
Dacheng Huo

If you are not a member of University of York staff and are interested in attending the seminar, please contact Adrian Villasenor-Lopez or Dacheng Huo so that we can ensure we have sufficient space

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