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Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement

Alice Hsiaw () and Ing-Haw Cheng ()
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Ing-Haw Cheng: Brandeis University

No 110R3, Working Papers from Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School

Abstract: Disagreement about the state of the world and expert credibility often go together in areas such as economics, climate change, and medicine. We argue this occurs because individuals make a mistake we call pre-screening when determining how much weight give an expert's signals. A pre-screener mistakes credibility as a primitive of the model and uses the signals to learn about credibility before forming posterior beliefs. Pre-screening predicts that disagreement about credibility is correlated with disagreement about the state. Furthermore: 1) Differing first impressions about credibility create persistent disagreement about the state; 2) Encountering experts in different order generates disagreement; and 3) Confirmation bias, overconfidence, and their opposites endogenously arise. These effects arise even when individuals share common priors, information, and learning errors, providing a theory of the origins of disagreement.

Keywords: disagreement; polarization; learning; expectations; experts (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe, nep-mic and nep-soc
Date: 2016-10, Revised 2018-03
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Related works:
Working Paper: Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement (2016) Downloads
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