Essays on Information and Fairness

Stefan Meissner
Stefan Meissner´s thesis emphasizes the importance of information on economic and public life and contributes to our understanding of the roles that people play in the information society.
PhD Defense

8 March 2021 17:06

Essays on Information and Fairness

On Friday 19 March 2021 Stefan Meissner will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:

«Information Economics: The Past, Present and the Future»

Trial lecture:

10:15, Zoom video conference, NHH

Title of the thesis:

«Essays on Information and Fairness»


Stefan Meissner
Stefan Meissner, PhD Candidate at the Department of Economics and Centre of Excellence FAIR, NHH.

The thesis consists of three chapters which inform current policy debates about the design of information provision programs and show how public preferences for policies are shaped by their desire for transparent information.

The first chapter of the dissertation is titled "There is something you should know - the moral obligation to provide information". This chapter studies whether people are willing to provide information even when that leads to outcomes that they dislike. It is motivated by the mounting evidence that information provision can have negative consequences for some recipients while helping others. It shows that people perceive information provision as a moral obligation, connected to their desire to give others freedom and autonomy to make their own decisions.

The second chapter "Cancel the deal? An experimental study on the exploitation of irrational consumers" is co-authored with Alexander W. Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden. In summary, the paper shows that a large share of participants perceives it as unfair if people who do not properly understand information are exploited by others.

This strongly suggests that full, transparent information provision is seen as an important foundation for a fair transaction and that otherwise people are unwilling to accept the consequences of a transaction.

The third chapter of this dissertation is co-authored with Hanna Krasnova and Katharina Baum and is called "Partisan self-interest is an important driver for people’s support for the regulation of targeted political advertising". This chapter examines the role of partisan self-interest, the drive to benefit one’s own political party, in people’s attitude towards microtargeted political advertising online.

The chapter demonstrates that people’s attitude towards targeted political advertising online depends on their belief about the effect that it has on the success of their preferred party. People who find out that their party benefits from the use of targeted political advertising become less likely to support stricter regulation of it.

Meissner´s three chapters emphasize the importance of information on economic and public life and open up new avenues for future research. By combining insight from the literature on social preferences and systematic biases, the findings show that people highly value information provision and transparency and that they strongly consider the outcomes of others that are the consequence of their actions. The experimental paradigms that are presented in the three chapters enable future studies to further disentangle the motivations of people in their roles as recipients, providers, and regulators of information in an incentive-compatible, tightly-controlled manner. They make it possible to further build on the results that were presented here and to deepen our understanding of the role of information in people’s lives.


12:15, Zoom video conference, NHH

Members of the evaluation committee:

Associate Professor Mathias Ekström (leader of the committee), Department of Economics and Centre of Excellence FAIR, NHH

Professor Dorothea Kübler, WZB Social Science Center Berlin and TU Berlin

Senior Researcher Andreas Kotsadam, Frischsenteret


Professor Alexander W. Cappelen (main supervisor), Department of Economics and Centre of Excellence FAIR, NHH.

Professor Björn Bartling, University of Zurich

The trial lecture and thesis defence will be open to the public.