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The Preference for Belief Consonance

Author

Listed:
  • Russell Golman
  • George Loewenstein
  • Karl Ove Moene
  • Luca Zarri

Abstract

We consider the determinants and consequences of a source of utility that has received limited attention from economists: people's desire for the beliefs of other people to align with their own. We relate this 'preference for belief consonance' to a variety of other constructs that have been explored by economists, including identity, ideology, homophily, and fellow-feeling. We review different possible explanations for why people care about others' beliefs and propose that the preference for belief consonance leads to a range of disparate phenomena, including motivated belief-formation, proselytizing, selective exposure to media, avoidance of conversational minefields, pluralistic ignorance, belief-driven clustering, intergroup belief polarization, and conflict. We also discuss an explanation for why disputes are often so intense between groups whose beliefs are, by external observers' standards, highly similar to one-another.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Golman & George Loewenstein & Karl Ove Moene & Luca Zarri, 2016. "The Preference for Belief Consonance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 165-188, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:30:y:2016:i:3:p:165-88
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.30.3.165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Sanjib Bhuyan, 2007. "The “People” Factor in Cooperatives: An Analysis of Members' Attitudes and Behavior," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 55(3), pages 275-298, September.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Benabou, Roland & Falk, Armin & Tirole, Jean, 2018. "Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning," IZA Discussion Papers 11665, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2019. "Motivated Errors," NBER Working Papers 26595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2020. "Belief-Dependent Motivations and Psychological Game Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 8285, CESifo.
    5. Christine L. Exley, 2020. "Using Charity Performance Metrics as an Excuse Not to Give," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 553-563, February.
    6. Begoña Cabeza & Koen Decancq, 2018. "Effort or Luck? Believing in the role of effort during the Spanish economic recession," Working Papers 1818, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    7. Øivind Schøyen, 0. "What limits the efficacy of coercion?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 0, pages 1-52.
    8. Florian Engl, 2020. "Ideological Motives and Group Decision-Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 8742, CESifo.
    9. Graham Beattie & Yi Han & Andrea La Nauze, 2019. "Conservation Spillovers: The Effect of Rooftop Solar on Climate Change Beliefs," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 74(3), pages 1425-1451, November.
    10. Felix Chopra & Ingar K. Haaland & Christopher Roth, 2019. "Do People Value More Informative News?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8026, CESifo.
    11. Russell Golman & Aditi Jain & Sonica Saraf, 2019. "Hipsters and the Cool: A Game Theoretic Analysis of Social Identity, Trends and Fads," Papers 1910.13385, arXiv.org.
    12. Antonio J. Trujillo & Aboozar Hadavand & Larissa Jennings Mayo-Wilson & Maria Amalia Pesantes & Francisco Diez Canseco & J. Jaime Miranda, 2020. "Ignorance or motivated beliefs: the role of motivated beliefs in self-management of diabetes," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 155-176, October.
    13. Brendan Nyhan, 2020. "Facts and Myths about Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 220-236, Summer.
    14. James G. Gimpel & Iris Hui, 2017. "Inadvertent and intentional partisan residential sorting," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 58(3), pages 441-468, May.
    15. Adrian Hillenbrand & Eugenio Verrina, 2018. "The differential effect of narratives prosocial behavior," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2018_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Jun 2020.

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    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
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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