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Spurious Consensus and Opinion Revision: Why Might People Be More Confident in Their Less Accurate Judgments?

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  • Ilan Yaniv
  • Shoham Choshen-Hillel
  • Maxim Milyavsky
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    Abstract

    In the interest of improving their decision-making, individuals revise their opinions on the basis of samples of opinions obtained from others. However, such a revision process may lead decision-makers to experience greater confidence in their less accurate judgments. We theorize that people tend to underestimate the informative value of independently drawn opinions, if these appear to conflict with one another, yet place some confidence even in the "spurious consensus" which may arise when opinions are sampled interdependently. The experimental task involved people’s revision of their opinions (caloric estimates of foods) on the basis of advice. The method of sampling the advisory opinions (independent or interdependent) was the main factor. The results reveal a dissociation between confidence and accuracy. A theoretical underlying mechanism is suggested whereby people attend to consensus (consistency) cues at the expense of information on interdependence. Implications for belief-updating and for individual and group decisions are discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem in its series Discussion Paper Series with number dp492.

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    Length: 15 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp492

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    1. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
    2. Peter M. Demarzo & Dimitri Vayanos & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 2003. "Persuasion Bias, Social Influence, And Unidimensional Opinions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 909-968, August.
    3. Sniezek, Janet A., 1992. "Groups under uncertainty: An examination of confidence in group decision making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 124-155, June.
    4. Kroll, Yoram & Levy, Haim & Rapoport, Amnon, 1988. "Experimental Tests of the Separation Theorem and the Capital Asset Pricing Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 500-519, June.
    5. Maines, Laureen A., 1996. "An experimental examination of subjective forecast combination," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 223-233, June.
    6. Yaniv, Ilan, 1997. "Weighting and Trimming: Heuristics for Aggregating Judgments under Uncertainty," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 237-249, March.
    7. Weber, Elke U. & B Ckenholt, Ulf & Hilton, Denis J. & Wallace, Brian, 2000. "Confidence judgments as expressions of experienced decision conflict," Risk, Decision and Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 69-100, April.
    8. Yaniv, Ilan, 2004. "Receiving other people's advice: Influence and benefit," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 1-13, January.
    9. Richard P. Larrick & Jack B. Soll, 2006. "Intuitions About Combining Opinions: Misappreciation of the Averaging Principle," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(1), pages 111-127, January.
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