Collectively jumping to conclusions: Social information amplifies the tendency to gather insufficient data. / Sulik, Justin; Efferson, Charles; McKay, Ryan.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 29.12.2020.

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Abstract

False beliefs can spread within societies even when they are costly and when individualsshare access to the same objective reality. Research on the cultural evolution of misbeliefshas demonstrated that a social context can explain what people think, but not whether italso explains how people think. We shift the focus from the diffusion of false beliefs to thediffusion of suboptimal belief-formation strategies, and identify a novel mechanism wherebymisbeliefs arise and spread. We show that, when individual decision-makers have access tothe data-gathering behaviour of others, the tendency to make decisions on the basis ofinsufficient evidence is amplified, increasing the rate of incorrect, costly decisions. Weargue that this mechanism fills a gap in current explanations of problematic, widespreadmisbeliefs such as climate change denial.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Dec 2020
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ID: 40034395