Persuasion Bias, Social Influence, and Uni-Dimensional Opinions

56 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2001

See all articles by Peter M. DeMarzo

Peter M. DeMarzo

Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jeffrey Zwiebel

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Dimitri Vayanos

London School of Economics; Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2001

Abstract

We propose a boundedly-rational model of opinion formation where agents are subject to the phenomenon of persuasion. We argue that persuasion - whereby repeated exposure to an opinion has a cumulative effect on an agent's beliefs - is pervasive and closely related to the concept of social influence. In our model, agents communicate repeatedly according to a social network, but fail to adjust properly for possible repetitions of information they receive. We show that under general conditions, agents' beliefs converge over time to a common belief, which is a weighted average of initial beliefs. Agents' weights can be characterized in several manners related to their network position, and can be interpreted as a measure of social influence. Furthermore, agents' multi-dimensional beliefs generally converge to a single line prior to obtaining a consensus. Thus, long-run differences in opinion can be characterized by a uni-dimensional measure. We explore the implications of our model in several natural settings, including neighborhoods with bilateral communication, hierarchies, and political science.

Keywords: Persuasion, Social Influence, Uni-Dimensional Opinions, Social Networks, Belief Formation, Bounded Rationality, Hierarchies, Communication

JEL Classification: D83, D72, D71, Z13

Suggested Citation

DeMarzo, Peter M. and Zwiebel, Jeffrey H. and Vayanos, Dimitri, Persuasion Bias, Social Influence, and Uni-Dimensional Opinions (November 2001). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=293139 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.293139

Peter M. DeMarzo

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Jeffrey H. Zwiebel (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

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Dimitri Vayanos

London School of Economics ( email )

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Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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