Belief Formation, Second Version

27 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2012

See all articles by Olivier Compte

Olivier Compte

Paris School of Economics (PSE); Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC) - Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Analyse Socio-Economique (CERAS)

Andrew Postlewaite

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 6, 2012

Abstract

Consider an agent who is unsure of the state of the world and faces computational bounds on mental processing. The agent receives a sequence of signals imperfectly correlated with the true state that he will use to take a single decision. The agent is assumed to have a finite number of "states of mind" that quantify his beliefs about the relative likelihood of the states, and uses the signals he receives to move from one state to another. At a random stopping time, the agent will be called upon to make a decision based solely on his mental state at that time. We show that under quite general conditions it is optimal that the agent ignore signals that are not very informative, that is, signals for which the likelihood of the states is nearly equal. This model provides a possible explanation of systematic inference mistakes people may make.

Keywords: Decision Theory, Beliefs, Behavioral Economics

JEL Classification: D03, D81

Suggested Citation

Compte, Olivier and Postlewaite, Andrew, Belief Formation, Second Version (July 6, 2012). PIER Working Paper No. 12-027, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2101692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2101692

Olivier Compte

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC) - Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Analyse Socio-Economique (CERAS) ( email )

28, rue des Saints-Peres
75007 Paris
France

Andrew Postlewaite (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7350 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.upenn.edu/~apostlew

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