Tra i Leoni: Revealing the preferences behind a superstition
Giovanna M Invernizzi, Joshua Miller, Tommaso Coen, Martin Dufwenberg, Luiz Edgard R Oliveira
Journal of Economic Psychology | Elsevier | Published : 2021
We examine a superstition for which adherence is nearly universal among its target population. Using a combination of field interventions that involve unsuspecting participants and a lab-style value elicitation, we investigate the nature and strength of peoples’ underlying preferences. While a substantial minority of people are willing to incur a relatively high individual cost in order to adhere to the superstition, for many, adherence is contingent on the behavior of others. Our findings are consistent with the idea that it is the conforming nature of the majority that sustains the false beliefs of the minority.