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Biases in Information Selection and Processing: Survey Evidence from the Pandemic

Author

Listed:
  • Ester Faia

    (Goethe University Frankfurt and CEPR)

  • Andreas Fuster

    (EPFL, Swiss Finance Institute and CEPR)

  • Vincenzo Pezone

    (Tilburg University)

  • Basit Zafar

    (University of Michigan and NBER)

Abstract

We conduct two survey experiments to study which information people choose to consume and how it affects their beliefs. In the first experiment, respondents choose between optimistic and pessimistic article headlines related to the COVID-19 pandemic and are then randomly shown one of the articles. Respondents with more pessimistic prior beliefs tend to prefer pessimistic headlines, providing evidence of confirmation bias. Additionally, respondents assigned to the less preferred article discount its information. The second experiment studies the role of partisan views, uncovering strong source dependence: news source revelation further distorts information acquisition, eliminating the role of priors in article choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Ester Faia & Andreas Fuster & Vincenzo Pezone & Basit Zafar, 2024. "Biases in Information Selection and Processing: Survey Evidence from the Pandemic," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 829-847, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:106:y:2024:i:3:p:829-847
    DOI: 10.1162/rest_a_01187
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Capozza & Ingar Haaland & Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2021. "Studying Information Acquisition in the Field: A Practical Guide and Review," CEBI working paper series 21-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. The Center for Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI).
    2. Guglielmo Zappalà, 2023. "Drought Exposure and Accuracy: Motivated Reasoning in Climate Change Beliefs," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 85(3), pages 649-672, August.
    3. Chopra, Felix & Haaland, Ingar & Roth, Christopher, 2021. "The Demand for Fact Checking," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 563, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Cattaneo, Cristina & Grieco, Daniela, 2021. "Turning opposition into support to immigration: The role of narratives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 785-801.
    5. Chopra, Felix & Haaland, Ingar & Roth, Christopher, 2022. "Do people demand fact-checked news? Evidence from U.S. Democrats," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    6. Felix Chopra & Ingar K. Haaland & Christopher Roth, 2022. "The Demand for News: Accuracy Concerns Versus Belief Confirmation Motives," CESifo Working Paper Series 9673, CESifo.
    7. Guglielmo Zappalà, 2022. "Drought exposure and accuracy: Motivated reasoning in climate change beliefs," Working Papers 2022.02, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    8. Bernard, René & Tzamourani, Panagiota & Weber, Michael, 2022. "Climate change and individual behavior," Discussion Papers 01/2022, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    9. Heiner Mikosch & Christopher Roth & Samad Sarferaz & Johannes Wohlfart, 2024. "Uncertainty and Information Acquisition: Evidence from Firms and Households," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 375-405, April.
    10. Choi, Syngjoo & Choi, Chung-Yoon & Kim, Seonghoon, 2023. "Tackling misperceptions about immigrants with fact-checking interventions: A randomized survey experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    11. Assenza, Tiziana, 2021. "The Ability to 'Distill the Truth'," TSE Working Papers 21-1280, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Mar 2022.
    12. Patrick Bareinz & Fabian Koenings, 2021. "Framing of Economic News and Policy Support During a Pandemic: Evidence from an Information Experiment," Jena Economics Research Papers 2021-004, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    13. Dylong, Patrick & Koenings, Fabian, 2023. "Framing of economic news and policy support during a pandemic: Evidence from a survey experiment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    14. Proaño, Christian R. & Kukacka, Jiri & Makarewicz, Tomasz, 2024. "Belief-driven dynamics in a behavioral SEIRD macroeconomic model with sceptics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 217(C), pages 312-333.
    15. Assenza, Tiziana & Cardaci, Alberto & Chaliasos, Michael, 2023. "Consumption and account balances in crises: Have we neglected cognitive load?," IMFS Working Paper Series 197, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
    16. Assenza, Tiziana & Cardaci, Alberto & Haliassos, Michael, 2024. "Consumption and Account Balances in Crises: Have We Neglected Cognitive Load?," TSE Working Papers 24-1499, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E71 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on the Macro Economy
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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