Document Type

Article Restricted

Publication Date


Journal Title

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Volume Number


First Page


Last Page




Although people prize the ability to choose when making choices for themselves, this right may become a burden when tasked with choosing for others. We show that people are more likely to delegate choices for others than for themselves, especially choices with potentially negative consequences.

This is driven by a desire to avoid feeling responsible or being blamed for such decisions rather than a desire to avoid making difficult choices or a lack of concern for others’ outcomes, and is unique to delegation and does not extend to other methods of choice avoidance, like delaying decisions or flipping a coin, that do not absolve decision makers of responsibility and blame. Moreover, people only delegate to others who can assume responsibility, regardless of their expertise, consistent with the notion that people delegate primarily to cede responsibility and blame, not put choices in the hands of more capable decision makers.