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The Distortion of Related Beliefs

Andrew Little, assistant professor of political science at UC Berkeley, introduces a model to study the distortion of related beliefs.

Mar 09, 2018
from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM

Kerr Hall Room 693

Abstract: When forming beliefs about themselves and the world, people may face a tension between conclusions they inherently wish to reach and those which are objectively reasonable. And the objective likelihood of beliefs about one variable (e.g., one's intelligence) depend on beliefs about other, related variables (e.g., whether the tests one have taken are biased). The model introduced in this paper combines these two forces, providing a tractable way to study the distortion of related beliefs. This provides a unified framework to understand several central ideas from psychology (e.g., motivated reasoning, attribution) which have been applied heavily to political science and economics. Among other applications, the model provides new insight into why successful individuals sometimes attribute their performance to luck ("imposter syndrome'') and why those from advantaged groups believe they in fact face high levels of discrimination (the "persecution complex'').

Andrew Little is an assistant professor of political science at UC Berkeley. His research uses formal models to study authoritarian politics, communication and information manipulation, and conflict.