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). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4339-01; Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 1719. 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 )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-736-1082 (Phone)
650-725-7979 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/people/pdemarzo

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeffrey H. Zwiebel (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-723-2917 (Phone)
650-725-7979 (Fax)

Dimitri Vayanos

London School of Economics ( email )

A350
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7955 6382 (Phone)
+44 (0)20 7955 7420 (Fax)

Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,007
Abstract Views
5,752
rank
21,083
PlumX Metrics