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Dispelling misconceptions about economics

Author

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  • Brandts, Jordi
  • Busom, Isabel
  • Lopez-Mayan, Cristina
  • Panadés, Judith

Abstract

Some popular views about the workings of the economy are completely at odds with solid empirical evidence and congruent theoretical explanations and therefore can be qualified as misconceptions. Such beliefs lead to support for harmful policies. Cognitive biases may contribute to explaining why misconceptions persist even when scientific information is provided to people. We conduct two experimental studies to investigate, for the first time in economics, whether presenting information in a refutational way affects people’s beliefs about an important socio-economic issue on which expert consensus is very strong: the harmful effects of rent controls. In the laboratory (Study 1) both our refutational and non-refutational messages induce a belief change in the direction of expert knowledge. The refutational message, however, does not improve significantly on the non-refutational one. In the field (Study 2), where participants are college students receiving economic training, the refutational text improves, subject to some caveats, on standard instruction but not on the non-refutational message. The main overall implications of our results are that providing information moderately reduces the misconception, but does not eliminate it, and that the refutational approach does not work better than providing the same information in a non-refutational manner.

Suggested Citation

  • Brandts, Jordi & Busom, Isabel & Lopez-Mayan, Cristina & Panadés, Judith, 2022. "Dispelling misconceptions about economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:88:y:2022:i:c:s016748702100091x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2021.102461
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2022. "“Pictures are worth many words: Effectiveness of visual communication in dispelling the rent–control misconception”," AQR Working Papers 202202, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Feb 2022.
    2. Breunig, Christoph & Grabova, Iuliia & Haan, Peter & Weinhardt, Felix & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2021. "Long-run expectations of households," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(C).
    3. Dolls, Mathias & Schüle, Paul & Windsteiger, Lisa, 2022. "Affecting Public Support for Economic Policies: Evidence from a Survey Experiment about Rent Control in Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2022 (Basel): Big Data in Economics 264060, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2022. "Images Say More Than Just Words: Effectiveness of Visual and Text Communication in Dispelling the Rent–Control Misconception," Working Papers 1322, Barcelona School of Economics.
    5. Charles Ka Yui LEUNG, 2022. "Housing and Macroeconomics," ISER Discussion Paper 1197, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    6. Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan, 2024. "Do voice and social information contribute to changing views about rent control policy?," IREA Working Papers 202405, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Feb 2024.
    7. Beatriz Tovar & David Boto-García & José Francisco Baños Pino, 2024. "Meeting externalities: The effects of educational training on support for tourism activities," Tourism Economics, , vol. 30(3), pages 785-805, May.
    8. Corduas, Marcella, 2022. "Gender differences in the perception of inflation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Misconceptions; Cognitive bias; Refutation; Experiment; Economic communication; Rent control;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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