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The Good News-Bad News Effect: Asymmetric Processing of Objective Information about Yourself

Authors:
Publication Date:
Jan 2010
Published In:
Project Programs:
Behavioral Economics

We study processing and acquisition of objective information regarding qualities that people care about, intelligence and beauty. Subjects receiving negative feedback
did not respect the strength of these signals, were far less predictable in their updating behavior and exhibited an aversion to new information. In response to good news, inference conformed more closely to Bayes Rule, both in accuracy and precision. Signal direction did not affect updating or acquisition in our neutral control. Unlike past work, our design varied direction and agreement with priors independently. The results indicate that confirmation bias is driven by direction; confirmation alone had no effect.

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