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Coarse Thinking and Persuasion

  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Joshua Schwartzstein
  • Andrei Shleifer

We present a model of coarse thinking, in which individuals group situations into categories, and transfer the informational content of a given message from situations in a category where it is useful to those where it is not. The model explains how uninformative messages can be persuasive, particularly in low involvement situations, and how objectively informative messages can be dropped by the persuader without the audience assuming the worst. The model sheds light on product branding, the structure of product attributes, and several puzzling aspects of mutual fund advertising.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12720.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Publication status: published as Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Coarse Thinking and Persuasion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 577-619, 05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12720
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