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Fragility of Information Cascades: An Experimental Study using Elicited Beliefs

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Author Info

  • Frederic Koessler

    ()
    (Paris School of Economics and CNRS)

  • Anthony Ziegelmeyer

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems, Strategic Interaction Group, Jena, Germany)

  • Juergen Bracht

    (University of Aberdeen Business School)

  • Eyal Winter

    (Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Abstract

This paper examines the occurrence and fragility of information cascades in laboratory experiments. One group of low informed subjects make predictions in sequence. In a matched pairs design, another set of high informed subjects observe the decisions of the first group and make predictions. According to the theory of information cascades (Bikhchandani, Hirshleifer, and Welch, 1992), if initial decisions coincide, an information cascade should occur: it is rational for subsequent players with low quality information to follow the observed pattern regardless of their private information. However, an information cascade should be fragile: it is always rational for subsequent players with high quality information to follow their private information. In line with existing experiments on information cascades, we find some evidence that low informed subjects follow the herd when it is rational, and this herding behavior occurs more frequently if there is a pronounced imbalance. The main finding of this paper is that information cascades are not fragile. We find strong evidence that highly informed subjects follow the herd regardless of their private information. In accordance with those observations we show, by explicitly eliciting subjects' beliefs about the state, that beliefs are not constant in the number of previous decisions that coincide, whether or not an information cascade already occurred. Subjects' behavior can be understood with a statistical model that allows for the possibility of errors in earlier decisions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2008-094.

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Date of creation: 20 Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2008-094

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Keywords: Information cascades; elicited beliefs; experimental economics;

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References

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  1. Philip A. Haile & Ali Hortacsu & Grigory Kosenok, 2003. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1432, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Mathias Drehmann & J�rg Oechssler & Andreas Roider, 2005. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets: An Internet Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1403-1426, December.
  3. Anderson, Lisa R. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "Information Cascade Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  4. Kraemer, Carlo & Noth, Markus & Weber, Martin, 2006. "Information aggregation with costly information and random ordering: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 423-432, March.
  5. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Munther A. Dahleh & Ilan Lobel & Asuman Ozdaglar, 2011. "Bayesian Learning in Social Networks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1201-1236.
  7. Dorothea Kübler & Georg Weizsäcker, 2005. "Are Longer Cascades More Stable?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 330-339, 04/05.
  8. 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.
  9. Anderson, Lisa R, 2001. "Payoff Effects in Information Cascade Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 609-15, October.
  10. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2008. "Belief Elicitation in Experiments: Is there a Hedging Problem?," IZA Discussion Papers 3517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  12. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Christoph March, 2011. "Adaptive social learning," PSE Working Papers halshs-00572528, HAL.
  2. Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Christoph March & Sebastian Krügel, 2012. ""Do We Follow Others when We Should? A Simple Test of Rational Expectations": Comment," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-006, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  3. J. Aislinn Bohren, 2013. "Informational Herding with Model Misspecification," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-007, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Neri, Claudia & Manski, Charles, 2012. "First- and Second-order Subjective Expectations in Strategic Decision-Making: Experimental Evidence," Economics Working Paper Series 1206, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  5. Christoph March & Sebastian Krügel & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2012. "Do We Follow Private Information when We Should? Laboratory Evidence on Nave Herding," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-002, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  6. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till & Hüning, Hendrik, 2013. "A comparison of endogenous and exogenous timing in a social learning experiment," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 167, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  7. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00572528 is not listed on IDEAS

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