Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement

62 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016 Last revised: 6 Jun 2017

Ing-Haw Cheng

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Alice Hsiaw

Brandeis University - International Business School

Date Written: June 2, 2017

Abstract

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

Cheng, Ing-Haw and Hsiaw, Alice, Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement (June 2, 2017). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2864563. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864563

Ing-Haw Cheng (Contact Author)

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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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