Belief Formation Under Signal Correlation

40 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2018 Last revised: 9 Nov 2020

See all articles by Tanjim Hossain

Tanjim Hossain

University of Toronto

Ryo Okui

Seoul National University

Date Written: October 28, 2020


This paper demonstrates the importance of simultaneously considering two behavioral biases, correlation neglect and overprecision, in characterizing belief formation. Our laboratory experiments reveal that, relative to independent signals, subjects overvalue moderately or strongly correlated signals, but undervalue weakly correlated signals. We explain these seemingly inconsistent findings by developing a model that concurrently incorporates both biases and separately identifies their effects. Estimated model parameters suggest that subjects show a nearly complete level of correlation neglect and a high level of overprecision. Moreover, they do not fully appreciate the variance reducing power of averages and undervalue aggregated market information.

Keywords: Correlated and independent signals, information processing, bounded rationality, correlation neglect, overprecision, belief elicitation, wisdom of the crowd

JEL Classification: C91, D81, D83, D84

Suggested Citation

Hossain, Tanjim and Okui, Ryo, Belief Formation Under Signal Correlation (October 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Tanjim Hossain

University of Toronto ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8

Ryo Okui (Contact Author)

Seoul National University ( email )

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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