Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement
62 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016 Last revised: 6 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 2, 2017
Persistent disagreement about substance and expert credibility often go hand in hand. Prominent examples include disagreements in economics, climate science, and medicine. We argue that disagreement arises because individuals overinterpret how much they can learn when both substance and expert credibility are uncertain. Our proposed learning bias predicts that: 1) Disagreement about credibility drives disagreement about substance; 2) First impressions of credibility drive long-lasting disagreement; 3) Distrust is difficult to unravel; 4) Encountering experts in different order generates disagreement; and 5) Confirmation bias and/or its opposite arise endogenously. These effects provide a theory of the origins of disagreement.
Keywords: disagreement, trust, polarization, learning, expectations, experts
JEL Classification: A11, D01, D03, D83, D84, G02
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation