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Biased beliefs and imperfect information

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  • Proto, Eugenio
  • Sgroi, Daniel

Abstract

We perform an experiment designed to assess the accuracy of beliefs about characteristics and decisions. Subjects are asked to declare beliefs typically formed through real world experiences. They are then asked to report beliefs concerning other individuals from the same environment. We test two main hypotheses: (i) whether for items not perfectly observable, individuals suffer from some type of biased beliefs; (ii) whether this bias is reduced when information is more readily available. We find a powerful and ubiquitous bias in perceptions that is “self-centered” in the sense that those at extremes tend to perceive themselves as closer to the middle of the distribution than is the case. This bias does not completely disappear when the information is more readily available. We present evidence from our experiment that limited attention and self-serving deception can provide explanations for this bias and present important economic applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2017. "Biased beliefs and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 186-202.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:136:y:2017:i:c:p:186-202
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.01.020
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dominik Bauer & Irenaeus Wolff, 2018. "Biases in Beliefs: Experimental Evidence," TWI Research Paper Series 109, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Biased beliefs; Information; Attitudes; Characteristics; Self-centered bias;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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