Coarse Thinking and Persuasion

52 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2006 Last revised: 2 May 2007

See all articles by Sendhil Mullainathan

Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joshua Schwartzstein

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

We present a model of coarse thinking, in which individuals group situations into categories, and transfer the informational content of a given message from situations in a category where it is useful to those where it is not. The model explains how uninformative messages can be persuasive, particularly in low involvement situations, and how objectively informative messages can be dropped by the persuader without the audience assuming the worst. The model sheds light on product branding, the structure of product attributes, and several puzzling aspects of mutual fund advertising.

Suggested Citation

Mullainathan, Sendhil and Schwartzstein, Joshua and Shleifer, Andrei, Coarse Thinking and Persuasion (December 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12720. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=948182

Sendhil Mullainathan (Contact Author)

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Joshua Schwartzstein

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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