Friday, 2 December, 2022 | 14:00 | Micro Theory Research Seminar

Jeanne Hagenbach (French National Research Institute) "Motivated Skepticism"

Jeanne Hagenbach, Ph.D.

French National Research Institute, France

Authors: Jeanne Hagenbach, Charlotte Saucet

Abstract: 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 situation: 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.

JEL Classification: C72, C91, D82, D91
Keywords: Disclosure games, hard information, unraveling result, skepticism, motivated beliefs.

Full Text: Motivated Skepticism