Do Voice and Social Information Contribute to Changing Views about Rent Control Policy?


Citizens’ ability to make informed and thoughtful choices when voting for policy proposals rests on their awareness of and access to accurate information about the costs and benefits that each proposal entails. We study whether specific social factors affect the disposition to drop a misconception, the belief that rent control increases the availability of affordable housing. We design an on–line experiment to test whether giving voice, aggregate social information and disaggregate social information increase the effect of a video explaining the evidence on the consequences of rent control policies. While voice and aggregate social information do not have an additional effect relative to a control group that is shown the same video, supplying disaggregate social has an additional impact on updating beliefs. Furthermore, we find that changes in beliefs widely translate into intended voting and recommending the video. Finally, although ideological position and a zero–sum mentality are correlated with the initial misconception, these two factors do not thwart the disposition to update beliefs after receiving experts’ information.