The Preference for Belief Consonance

Journal of Economic Perspectives, Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2016

See all articles by Russell Golman

Russell Golman

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Karl O. Moene

University of Oslo - Department of Economics

Luca Zarri

University of Verona - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 9, 2016

Abstract

We consider the determinants and consequences of a source of utility that has received limited attention from economists: people’s desire for the beliefs of other people to align with their own. We relate this ‘preference for belief consonance’ to a variety of other constructs that have been explored by economists, including identity, ideology, homophily and fellow-feeling. We review different possible explanations for why people care about others’ beliefs and propose that the preference for belief consonance leads to a range of disparate phenomena, including motivated belief-formation, proselytizing, selective exposure to media, avoidance of conversational minefields, pluralistic ignorance, belief-driven clustering, intergroup belief polarization and conflict. We also discuss an explanation for why disputes are often so intense between groups whose beliefs are, by external observers’ standards, highly similar to one-another.

Keywords: Beliefs, Consonance, Utility, Identity

JEL Classification: D03, D81, D83

Suggested Citation

Golman, Russell and Loewenstein, George F. and Moene, Karl O. and Zarri, Luca, The Preference for Belief Consonance (June 9, 2016). Journal of Economic Perspectives, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2793500

Russell Golman

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

George F. Loewenstein (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Karl O. Moene

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo
Norway
+47 22855130 (Phone)
+47 22855035 (Fax)

Luca Zarri

University of Verona - Department of Economics ( email )

Via dell'Artigliere, 8
37129 Verona
Italy

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
295
Abstract Views
1,935
rank
110,590
PlumX Metrics