Acceptable Discourse: Social Norms of Beliefs and Opinions

Category: Applied Microeconomics and Organization Seminar
When: 18 November 2020
, 14:00
 - 15:00

Title: "Acceptable Discourse: Social Norms of Beliefs and Opinions."


This paper develops a theory of social norms of beliefs and opinions, which provides an account of political correctness and the backlash against it. In the model, social norms about opinion expression emerge as equilibria of a signaling game in which expressing an unpopular opinion leads to bad judgments about one's values, but opinions may depend on people's factual beliefs as well as their values. We find that multiple equilibria may coexist, corresponding to norms with more or less conformity and social pressure. Motivated reasoning and persuasion allow norms to influence privately held opinions and underlying factual beliefs. The theory helps us understand normative social influence on beliefs and identity-protective cognition.