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The False Consensus Effect: Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Anomaly

Author

Listed:
  • Dirk Engelmann
  • Martin Strobel

Abstract

We present a striking example of the deconstruction and reconstruction of an anomaly. In line with previous experiments we show in a one-shot setting that the allegedly robust false consensus effect disappears if representative information is readily available. But the effect reappears if a small cognitive effort is required to retrieve the information. Most subjects apparently ignore valuable information if it is not handed to them on a silver platter. We conclude that the relevance of the false consensus effect depends on the difficulty of the information retrieval and that the underlying mechanism is an information processing defficiency rather than egocentricity. Moreover, we discuss the potential relevance of our findings for other well-known effects like the winner’s curse and overconfidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "The False Consensus Effect: Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Anomaly," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp233, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  • Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp233
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    File URL: http://www.cerge-ei.cz/pdf/wp/Wp233.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. van der Heijden, E.C.M. & Nelissen, J.H.M. & Potters, J.J.M., 2004. "Opinions on Tax Deductions and the Consensus Effect in a Survey-Experiment," Discussion Paper 2004-23, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
    3. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2000. "The False Consensus Effect Disappears if Representative Information and Monetary Incentives Are Given," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(3), pages 241-260, December.
    4. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Eline Heijden & Jan Nelissen & Jan Potters, 2007. "Opinions on the Tax Deductibility of Mortgages and the Consensus Effect," De Economist, Springer, vol. 155(2), pages 141-159, June.
    2. Borgsen, Sina & Weber, Martin, 2007. "False consensus and the role of ambiguity in predictions of others risky preferences," Papers 07-46, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    3. van der Heijden, E.C.M. & Nelissen, J.H.M. & Potters, J.J.M., 2004. "Opinions on Tax Deductions and the Consensus Effect in a Survey-Experiment," Discussion Paper 2004-23, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Borck, Rainald & Frank, Bjorn & Robledo, Julio R., 2006. "An empirical analysis of voluntary payments for information goods on the Internet," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 229-239, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    False Consensus; Information Processing; Anomalies; Experimental Economics.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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