How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion?

In everyday situations, people regularly receive information from large groups of (lay) people and from single experts. Although lay opinions and expert opinions have been studied extensively in isolation, the present study examined the relationship between the two by asking how many lay people are needed to counter an expert opinion. A Bayesian formalisation allowed the prescription of this quantity. Participants were subsequently asked to assess how many lay people are needed in different situations. The results demonstrate that people are sensitive to the relevant factors identified for determining how many lay opinions are required to counteract a single expert opinion. People’s assessments were fairly good in line with Bayesian predictions.

  • Hornikx, J., Harris, A., & Boekema, J. (2018). How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion? Thinking and Reasoning, 24 (1), 117-128.

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