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On self-serving strategic beliefs


Ging-Jehli, Nadja R; Schneider, Florian H; Weber, Roberto A (2020). On self-serving strategic beliefs. Games and Economic Behavior, 122:341-353.

Abstract

We experimentally study whether individuals adopt negative beliefs about others' intentions to justify egoistic behavior. Our first study compares the beliefs held by players with such an incentive to the beliefs of neutral observers and finds no evidence that individuals engage in “strategic cynicism.” This contrasts with other recent evidence demonstrating that people hold less positive beliefs about others when doing so allows them to act more self-interestedly. We reconcile the discrepancy, using a simple model of belief manipulation and a novel experiment that replicates and extends the earlier findings. Across three datasets, we find no evidence of negatively biased beliefs in absolute terms. However, those with a greater incentive to view others' intentions cynically exhibit relatively less positive beliefs. Our contribution expands our understanding of the psychological forces underlying self-serving belief manipulation, by noting that strategic cynicism may compete with a tendency towards positivity in determining individuals' beliefs.

Abstract

We experimentally study whether individuals adopt negative beliefs about others' intentions to justify egoistic behavior. Our first study compares the beliefs held by players with such an incentive to the beliefs of neutral observers and finds no evidence that individuals engage in “strategic cynicism.” This contrasts with other recent evidence demonstrating that people hold less positive beliefs about others when doing so allows them to act more self-interestedly. We reconcile the discrepancy, using a simple model of belief manipulation and a novel experiment that replicates and extends the earlier findings. Across three datasets, we find no evidence of negatively biased beliefs in absolute terms. However, those with a greater incentive to view others' intentions cynically exhibit relatively less positive beliefs. Our contribution expands our understanding of the psychological forces underlying self-serving belief manipulation, by noting that strategic cynicism may compete with a tendency towards positivity in determining individuals' beliefs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Finance
Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Economics and econometrics, finance, motivated beliefs, strategic cynicism, bias, experiment
Language:English
Date:July 2020
Deposited On:05 Feb 2021 10:04
Last Modified:06 Feb 2021 21:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0899-8256
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geb.2020.04.016
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/165314/

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