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Dispelling Misconceptions about Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Jordi Brandts
  • Isabel Busom
  • Cristina Lopez-Mayan
  • Judith Panadés

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2019. "Dispelling Misconceptions about Economics," Working Papers 1096, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:1096
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    misconceptions; biases; rent control; economic communication; persuasion;
    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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