Dispelling Misconceptions in Economics

45 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019 Last revised: 8 Mar 2021

See all articles by Jordi Brandts

Jordi Brandts

Instituto de Analisis Economico (CSIC) Barcelona

Isabel Busom

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Cristina Lopez-Mayan

Euncet Business School

Judith Panadés

Autonomous University of Barcelona

Date Written: Marc 8, 2021


Some popular views about the workings of the economy are completely at odds with solid empirical evidence and congruent theoretical explanations and therefore can be qualified as misconceptions. Such beliefs lead to support for harmful policies. Cognitive biases may contribute to explaining why misconceptions persist even when scientific information is provided to people. We conduct two types of experiments to investigate, for the first time in economics, whether presenting information in a refutational way affects people’s beliefs about an important socio-economic issue on which expert consensus is very strong: the harmful effects of rent controls. In the laboratory both our refutational and non-refutational messages induce a belief change in the direction of expert knowledge. The refutational message, however, does not improve significantly on the non-refutational one. In the field, where participants are college students receiving economic training, the refutational text improves on standard teaching. Overall, the refutational message has a moderate success since most participants stick to the misconception.

Keywords: misconceptions, biases, rent control, economic communication, persuasion

JEL Classification: A12, A2, D9, I2

Suggested Citation

Brandts, Jordi and Busom, Isabel and Lopez-Mayan, Cristina and Panadés, Judith, Dispelling Misconceptions in Economics (Marc 8, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3384538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3384538

Jordi Brandts

Instituto de Analisis Economico (CSIC) Barcelona ( email )

UAB Campus
E-08193 Bellaterra

Isabel Busom

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona ( email )

Departament d'Economia Aplicada
Edifici B - Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra
+34 935 81 22 06 (Phone)
+34 935 81 22 92 (Fax)

Cristina Lopez-Mayan (Contact Author)

Euncet Business School ( email )

Ctra. de Talamanca Km. 3
Terrassa, Barcelona 08225

Judith Panadés

Autonomous University of Barcelona ( email )

Plaça Cívica
Cerdañola del Valles
Barcelona, Barcelona 08193

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