Illusion of control and the pursuit of authority

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10683-016-9499-7

Cite this article as:
Sloof, R. & von Siemens, F.A. Exp Econ (2016). doi:10.1007/s10683-016-9499-7


We measure participants’ willingness to pay for transparently useless authority—the right to make a completely uninformed task decision. We further elicit participants’ beliefs about receiving their preferred outcome if they make the decision themselves, and if another participant makes the decision for them. We find that participants pay more to make the decision themselves if they also believe that they can thus increase the probability of getting their preferred outcome. Illusion of control therefore exists in a controlled laboratory environment with monetary incentives and is connected to peoples’ pursuit of authority.


Control preferences Illusion of control Allocation of decision rights 

JEL Classification

C91 D23 D80 

Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Tinbergen InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.CESifoMunichGermany

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