Subjective beliefs and confidence when facts are forgotten
Forgetting can be a salient source of uncertainty for subjective beliefs, confidence, and ambiguity attitudes. To investigate this, we run several experiments where people bet on propositions (facts) that they cannot recall with certainty. We use betting preferences to infer subjects’ revealed beliefs and their revealed confidence in these beliefs. Forgetting is induced via interference tasks and time delays (up to one year). We observe a natural memory decay pattern where beliefs become less accurate and confidence is reduced as well. Moreover, we find a form of comparative ignorance where subjects are more ambiguity averse when they cannot recall the truth rather than never having learnt it. In a different vein, we identify an overconfidence pattern: on average, subjects overpay for bets on propositions that they believe in, but underpay for the opposite bets. We formulate a two-signal behavioral model of forgetting that generates all of these patterns. It suggests new testable hypotheses that are confirmed by our data.
KeywordsMemory decay Overconfidence Comparative ignorance Revealed beliefs Ambiguity aversion
JEL ClassificationsD81 C91
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