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Informational Herding and Optimal Experimentation

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  • Lones Smith

    (Dept. of Economics, University of Michigan)

  • Peter Norman Sorensen

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We show that far from capturing a formally new phenomenon, informational herding is really a special case of single-person experimentation -- and 'bad herds' the typical failure of complete learning. We then analyze the analogous team equilibrium, where individuals maximize the present discounted welfare of posterity. To do so, we generalize Gittins indices to our non-bandit learning problem, and thereby characterize when contrarian behaviour arises: (i) While herds are still constrained efficient, they arise for a strictly smaller belief set. (ii) A log-concave log-likelihood ratio density robustly ensures that individuals should lean more against their myopic preference for an action the more popular it becomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1552.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1552

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Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Phone: (203) 432-3702
Fax: (203) 432-6167
Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/
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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

Related research

Keywords: Bayesian learning; value function; herding; experimentation; log concavity; Gittins index; team equilibrium;

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References

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  1. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  2. Chamley, Christophe & Gale, Douglas, 1994. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1065-85, September.
  3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  4. Aghion, P. & Bolton, P. & Harris, C. & Jullien, B., 1990. "Optimal Learning By Experimentation," DELTA Working Papers 90-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  5. Dow, James, 1991. "Search Decisions with Limited Memory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 1-14, January.
  6. Matthew Doyle, 2010. "Informational externalities, strategic delay, and optimal investment subsidies," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(3), pages 941-966, August.
  7. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Sensitivity analysis of multisector optimal economic dynamics," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 123-141.
  8. Vives, Xavier, 1993. "How Fast Do Rational Agents Learn?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 329-47, April.
  9. Sgroi, Daniel, 2002. "Optimizing Information in the Herd: Guinea Pigs, Profits, and Welfare," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 137-166, April.
  10. Smith, L. & Sorensen, P., 1996. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Working papers 96-19, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 1991. "Optimal Learning by Experimentation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 621-54, July.
  12. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  13. Burdett, Kenneth, 1996. "Truncated means and variances," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 263-267, September.
  14. McLennan, Andrew, 1984. "Price dispersion and incomplete learning in the long run," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 331-347, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Christos Koulovatianos & Leonard J. Mirman & Marc Santugini, 2011. "Investment in a Monopoly with Bayesian Learning," Cahiers de recherche 11-05, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  2. Jacob K. Goeree & Thomas R. Palfrey & Brian W. Rogers & Richard D. McKelvey, 2007. "Self-Correcting Information Cascades," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 733-762.
  3. Doyle, Matthew, 2002. "Informational Externalities, Strategic Delay, and the Search for Optimal Policy," Staff General Research Papers 10046, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Alessandro Lizzeri & Marciano Siniscalchi, 2007. "Parental Guidance and Supervised Learning," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 843644000000000090, www.najecon.org.
  5. Gleason, Kimberly C. & Mathur, Ike & Peterson, Mark A., 2004. "Analysis of intraday herding behavior among the sector ETFs," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(5), pages 681-694, December.

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