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Mindful Economics: The Production, Consumption, and Value of Beliefs

Author

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  • Roland Bénabou
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

In this paper, we provide a perspective into the main ideas and findings emerging from the growing literature on motivated beliefs and reasoning. This perspective emphasizes that beliefs often fulfill important psychological and functional needs of the individual. Economically relevant examples include confidence in ones' abilities, moral self-esteem, hope and anxiety reduction, social identity, political ideology, and religious faith. People thus hold certain beliefs in part because they attach value to them, as a result of some (usually implicit) tradeoff between accuracy and desirability. In a sense, we propose to treat beliefs as regular economic goods and assets--which people consume, invest in, reap returns from, and produce, using the informational inputs they receive or have access to. Such beliefs will be resistant to many forms of evidence, with individuals displaying non-Bayesian behaviors such as not wanting to know, wishful thinking, and reality denial.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Mindful Economics: The Production, Consumption, and Value of Beliefs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 141-164, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:30:y:2016:i:3:p:141-64
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.30.3.141
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner & Ludger Wößmann, 2018. "Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 7000, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Naci H. Mocan & Han Yu, 2017. "Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China," NBER Working Papers 23709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:eee:iburev:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:78-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Charles F. Manski, 2017. "Survey Measurement of Probabilistic Macroeconomic Expectations: Progress and Promise," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2017, volume 32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2017. "The Better is the Enemy of the Good," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-017, Harvard Business School.
    6. Barron, Kai, 2016. "Belief updating: Does the 'good-news, bad-news' asymmetry extend to purely financial domains?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-309, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    7. Le Yaouanq, Yves, 2018. "A Model of Ideological Thinking," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 85, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    8. Damien Besancenot & Radu Vranceanu, 2018. "Crowdfunding with overenthusiastic investors : a global game model," Working Papers hal-01718793, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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