, Volume 38, Issue 2-3, pp 135-151
Date: 22 Oct 2008

Do Professors’ Opinions Affect Students?

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Abstract

This paper estimates the effect that professors’ opinions have on changes in student opinions during introductory economics classes. The paper shows that students are more likely to change their opinion during the course of the semester if their initial response differs from that of the professor, and this result emerges even after controlling for students’ tendency to move toward the consensus opinion held by all the economics professors. Students are also more likely to change their opinions if they differ from the opinions of their classmates, and the estimates show that in the aggregate, classmate opinions matter more than professor opinions do. The data also show that students choose which section to attend at least partly based on how closely their pre-class opinions match those of the professor. These results have important implications for both heterodox and orthodox economists.