Does Consistency Predict Accuracy of Beliefs?: Economists Surveyed About PSA

Subjective beliefs and behavior regarding the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer were surveyed among attendees of the 2006 meeting of the American Economic Association. Logical inconsistency was measured in percentage deviations from a restriction imposed by Bayes’ Rule on… pairs of conditional beliefs. Economists with inconsistent beliefs tended to be more accurate than average, and consistent Bayesians were substantially less accurate. Within a loss function framework, we look for and cannot find evidence that inconsistent beliefs cause economic losses. Subjective beliefs about cancer risks do not predict PSA testing decisions, but social influences do.