Conventional economics makes the assumption that people desire information only to the extent that it enables them to make better decisions, and that they update their beliefs optimally in response to such information. In reality, people cherish the beliefs they hold, defend them from perceived challenges, and can be hostile to those who hold different beliefs. Such "belief-based utility" can lead to camaraderie or conflict, information seeking or avoidance, uncertainty tolerance or aversion, and motivated reasoning or forgetting.
Belief-based utility has become a topic of interest among behavioral economists. Building on this momentum, Russell Golman and George Loewenstein will host a conference on belief-based utility to bring together both behavioral economists and psychologists working on this topic to exchange ideas and stimulate further research. The conference will take place at Carnegie Mellon University on June 12-13, 2017.