Fake News, Voter Overconfidence, and the Quality of Democratic Choice
Speaker(s)Melis Kartal (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria)
LocationUniversity of Amsterdam, E 0.09
Date and time
October 20, 2022
16:00 - 17:15
This paper studies, theoretically and experimentally, the effects of overconfidence and fake news on information aggregation and the quality of democratic choice in a common interest setting. We theoretically show that overconfidence exacerbates the adverse effects of widespread misinformation (i.e., fake news). We study extensions that allow for partisan biases, targeted misinformation intended to move public opinion in a specific direction, and correlated news signals (due to for example media ownership concentration). In our experiment, voters are exposed to correct news or misinformation. The extent to which a subject is likely to observe correct news depends on their cognitive ability. Absent overconfidence, more cognitively able subjects are predicted to vote while less able subjects are predicted to abstain, and information is predicted to aggregate well. We provide evidence that overconfidence induces misinformed subjects to vote excessively, thereby severly undermining information aggregation.