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The role of source reliability in belief polarisation

Henderson, Leah and Gebharter, Alexander (2021) The role of source reliability in belief polarisation. Synthese. ISSN 1573-0964


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Psychological studies show that the beliefs of two agents in a hypothesis can diverge even if both agents receive the same evidence. This phenomenon of belief polarisation is often explained by invoking biased assimilation of evidence, where the agents’ prior views about the hypothesis affect the way they process the evidence. We suggest, using a Bayesian model, that even if such influence is excluded, belief polarisation can still arise by another mechanism. This alternative mechanism involves differential weighting of the evidence arising when agents have different initial views about the reliability of their sources of evidence. We provide a systematic exploration of the conditions for belief polarisation in Bayesian models which incorporate opinions about source reliability, and we discuss some implications of our findings for the psychological literature.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Henderson, Leahl.henderson@rug.nl0000-0002-8709-9765
Gebharter, Alexanderalexander.gebharter@phil.hhu.de0000-0003-1708-2949
Keywords: belief polarisation; reliability; Bayesian
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Depositing User: Dr Leah Henderson
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2021 22:57
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2021 22:57
Item ID: 19156
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Date: 1 June 2021
ISSN: 1573-0964

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