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From Competition to Competence? Theory and Experiments Regarding Deliberation, Expertise, and Decision Making

55 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2007 Last revised: 15 Feb 2008

Cheryl Boudreau

University of California, Davis

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Date Written: June 28, 2007

Abstract

Many scholars propose deliberation as a remedy for our uninformed citizenry. Specifically, scholars emphasize that exposing citizens to the views of competing experts and then letting them discuss those views will help citizens to learn about politics and make informed decisions. In this paper, we analyze experimentally the conditions under which competition between experts induces the experts to make truthful statements and enables citizens to improve their decisions. Our results demonstrate that, contrary to our theoretical predictions, competition induces enough truth-telling to allow subjects to achieve modest improvements in their decisions. Then, when we impose even weak institutions (such as small penalties for lying or slim chances of verification) upon the competing experts, we observe dramatic improvements in both the experts' propensity to tell the truth and in subjects' decisions. We find similar improvements when the competing experts are permitted to exchange reasons for why their statements may be correct. Thus, both institutions and the exchange of reasons help competition between experts to function more effectively.

Keywords: deliberation, learning, competition, experts, experiment, competence

JEL Classification: C91, D80, K10, D72

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Cheryl and McCubbins, Mathew D., From Competition to Competence? Theory and Experiments Regarding Deliberation, Expertise, and Decision Making (June 28, 2007). 2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=997199 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.997199

Cheryl Boudreau (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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