Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 11:34:19 -0800 (PST)

Kathryn Aegis wrote:
>Conflict theory states that the items that are less important to each
>side lend themselves to multiple avenues of negotiation, whereas
>parties tend to become entrenched on the bigger, or underlying issues
>involving face, power, authority, or influence.

I responded:
>This would argue for a differential confidence among political issues,
>but not for a difference between politics and say psychotherapy.

She replied:
>I'm going to admit to a low confidence here and ask you to please
>amplify your response. How do you compare politics and
>psychotherapy, and how does that play into issue negotiation?

You referred to a theory that, within the context of a negotiation,
people will be more "entrenched" regarding big issues that little
issues. Applied to politics, this might explain more confidence on
big issues relative to little issues, as long as those different
issues might appear in the same negotiation. But if we compare
confidence regarding politics to confidence regarding phychotherapy,
where there is no common negotiation covering both areas, this theory
doesn't apply.

Robin D. Hanson