Distrust in Experts and the Origins of Disagreement
64 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016 Last revised: 1 Apr 2018
Date Written: March 27, 2018
Disagreement about the state of the world and expert credibility often go together in areas such as economics, climate change, and medicine. We argue this correlated disagreement arises because individuals mistake credibility as a primitive of the model when determining how much weight to give an expert's signals, and use the signals to learn about credibility before forming posteriors. Furthermore, this leads to several testable predictions: 1) Differing first impressions about credibility create persistent disagreement about the state; 2) Encountering experts in different order generates disagreement; and 3) Confirmation bias, overconfidence, and their opposites arise endogenously depending on the path of signals. Our work emphasizes that polarized disagreement about real-world issues may be fundamentally due to erroneous learning about credibility.
Keywords: disagreement, trust, polarization, learning, expectations, experts
JEL Classification: D83, D84, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation