Four Biases

Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture at the Young Scholars Colloquium (FEE seminar) where I heard Bryan Caplan speak on his book, “The Myth of The Rational Voter.”

During his lecture, Bryan mentioned four biases that help explain the ideology of a typical American.  They are listed below:

  1. Anti-market bias – Capitalists a greedy profit seeking individuals who make money at the expense of everyone else.
  2. Anti-foreign bias – Foreigners are bad because they make cheap things, take our jobs, act different from us, drain our budget, etc…
  3. Make-work bias – Valuing employment over output.  Losing jobs is bad, even if it is caused by innovation.  Around 150 years ago, the overwhelming majority of the nation worked as farmers.  Now only 3% of Americans are farmers.  Imagine what our nation would look like today if we valued employment over output.
  4. Pessimistic bias – The American economy is constantly in decline, and the future is going to be bad.

Understanding these biases are crucial to effectively communicating with the public.


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