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The Biases of Others

by Kristof Madarasz, London School of Economics

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | 10:30am-12:00pm | Room 333, HSBC Business School Building


When social beliefs are systematically biased, understanding how people think about the biases of others is essential since biased beliefs about the beliefs of others and the anticipation of the same biased tendency in the thinking of others are directly linked. We find that while people fail to engage in sufficient mental perspective taking and naively project their information onto differentially-informed others, they also anticipate that differentially-informed others mistakenly project onto them. In particular, we test a tight one-to-one relationship between the extent to which the typical person projects onto others, ρ, and the partial extent to which she anticipates but underestimates the projection of others onto her, ρ², as implied by projection equilibrium. We find that most people are partially biased and partially anticipate the biases of others and that the structure of this psychological phenomena is remarkably consistent with the proposed portable and tight idea of social beliefs arising from a coherent but fully egocentric belief hierarchy with a partial probabilistic adjustment to the truth. Applications to defensive agency and law and economics are discussed.
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