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Motivated Skepticism (with C. Saucet (University Paris 1))

CIREQ-Concordia Seminar 2022-2023
Virtual Seminar Series in Information Economics and Experiments

joint with the Department of Economics, Concordia University

Organizers : Ming Li and Huan Xie (Concordia U.)

*  Virtual Seminar. Please contact one of the organizers (ming.li@concordia.ca ou huan.xie@concordia.ca) for Zoom login information. 

RÉSUMÉ : We experimentally study how individuals read strategically-transmitted information when they have preferences over what they will learn. Subjects play disclosure games in which Receivers should interpret messages skeptically. We vary whether the state that Senders communicate about is ego-relevant or neutral for Receivers, and whether skeptical beliefs are aligned or not with what Receivers prefer believing. Compared to neutral settings, skepticism is significantly lower when it is self-threatening, and not enhanced when it is self-serving. These results shed light on a new channel that individuals can use to protect their beliefs in communication situations: they exercise skepticism in a motivated way, that is, in a way that depends on the desirability of the conclusions that skeptical inferences lead to.

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