Belief Elicitation: A Horse Race Among Truth Serums

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2011-117

38 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2011

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 8, 2011

Abstract

In survey studies, probabilistic expectations about uncertain events are typically elicited by asking respondents for their introspective beliefs. If more complex procedures are feasible, beliefs can be elicited by incentive compatible revealed preference mechanisms (“truth serums”). Various mechanisms have been proposed in the literature, which differ in the degree to which they account for respondents’ deviations from expected value maximization. In this paper, we pit non-incentivized introspection against five truth serums, to elicit beliefs in a simple two-player game. We test the internal validity (additivity and predictive power for own behavior), and the external validity (predictive power for other players’ behavior, or accuracy) of each method. We find no differences among the truth serums. Beliefs from incentivized methods are better predictors of subjects’ own behavior compared to introspection. However, introspection performs equally well as the truth serums in terms of accuracy and additivity.

Keywords: belief measurement, subjective probability, scoring rules, outcome matching

JEL Classification: D81, C83, C91

Suggested Citation

Trautmann, Stefan and van de Kuilen, Gijs, Belief Elicitation: A Horse Race Among Truth Serums (November 8, 2011). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2011-117. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1956480 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1956480

Stefan Trautmann (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

Gijs Van de Kuilen

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

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