Which Beliefs? Behavior-Predictive Beliefs are Inconsistent with Information-Based Beliefs: Evidence from Covid-19
36 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2021 Last revised: 3 Nov 2021
Date Written: October 26, 2021
We investigate the relationship between (a) official information on COVID-19 infection and death case counts; (b) beliefs about such case counts, at present and in the future; (c) beliefs about average infection chance—in principle, directly calculable from (b); and (d) self-reported health-protective behavior. We elicit (b), (c), and (d) with a daily online survey in the US from March to August 2020 (N ≈ 13,900). Beliefs about future infection cases are closely related to official information, but are inconsistent with beliefs about infection chances—risk perceptions—which are better predictors of reported behavior. We discuss potential implications for public communication of health-risk information.
Note: Funding Statement: The research was funded by the Johnson School at Cornell and by the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS).
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that there are no relevant financial or non-financial competing interests to report.
Ethics Approval Statement: Our research was exempted from IRB review by Cornell's IRB, protocol # 2001009361. The research is purely based on an anonymous internet MTurk survey. At the beginning of the survey, our respondents provide their informed consent to participate in the study.
Keywords: Information, Expectations, Beliefs, Risk Perceptions, Survey Elicitation, COVID-19
JEL Classification: D83, D84, D91, I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation