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False Consensus in Economic Agents

By Eugenio Proto and Daniel Sgroi


In an incentivized experiment we identify a powerful and ubiquitous bias: individuals regard their own characteristics and choices as more common than is the case. We establish this "false consensus" bias in terms of happiness, political stance, mobile phone brand and on the attitude to deference in a hypothetical restaurant choice, and show that it is not limited to the distribution of hard to observe characteristics and choices but also to weight and height. We also show that the bias is not driven by the fact that the tallest, happiest, most left/right-wing, etc. are more salient. Key words: false consensus ; saliency ; biased beliefs ; happiness ; politics ; height, weight. JEL classification: D03 ; C83 ; D84

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