Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement

89 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016 Last revised: 20 Dec 2021

See all articles by Ing-Haw Cheng

Ing-Haw Cheng

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Alice Hsiaw

Brandeis University - International Business School

Date Written: November 18, 2021

Abstract

Why do individuals interpret the same information differently? We propose that individuals form beliefs following Bayes' Rule with one exception: when assessing the credibility of experts, they double-dip the data and use already-updated beliefs instead of their priors. This "pre-screening" mechanism explains why individuals jointly disagree about states of the world and the credibility of experts, why the ordering of signals and experts affects final beliefs, and when individuals over- or underreact to new information. In a trading game, pre-screening generates excessive speculation, bubbles, and crashes. Our theory provides a micro-foundation for why individuals disagree about how to interpret the same data.

Keywords: disagreement, polarization, learning, speculation, bubbles

JEL Classification: D91, D83, G41

Suggested Citation

Cheng, Ing-Haw and Hsiaw, Alice, Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement (November 18, 2021). Journal of Economic Theory, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864563 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2864563

Ing-Haw Cheng (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://inghawcheng.github.io

Alice Hsiaw

Brandeis University - International Business School ( email )

Mailstop 32
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.brandeis.edu/~ahsiaw/

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