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Informational Herding and Optimal Experimentation

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  • Lones Smith

    (Department of Economics, University of Michigan)

  • Peter Norman Sørensen

    (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 University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 05-13.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0513

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Keywords: herding; optimal learning; experimentation; contrarianism;

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References

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  1. Lones Smith & Peter Sorensen, 2000. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 371-398, March.
  2. Doyle, Matthew, 2002. "Informational Externalities, Strategic Delay, and the Search for Optimal Policy," Staff General Research Papers 10046, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Vives, Xavier, 1993. "How Fast Do Rational Agents Learn?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 329-47, April.
  4. Gale, D. & Chamley, C., 1992. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Papers 10, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Dow, James, 1991. "Search Decisions with Limited Memory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 1-14, January.
  6. Sgroi, D., 2000. "Optimizing Information in the Herd: Guinea Pigs, Profit and Welfare," Economics Papers 2000-w14, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  7. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Sensitivity analysis of multisector optimal economic dynamics," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 123-141.
  10. Aghion Philippe & Bolton, Patrick & Harris Christopher & Jullien Bruno, 1991. "Optimal learning by experimentation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9104, CEPREMAP.
  11. Burdett, Kenneth, 1996. "Truncated means and variances," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 263-267, September.
  12. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
  13. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  14. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 1991. "Optimal Learning by Experimentation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 621-54, July.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Alessandro Lizzeri & Marciano Siniscalchi, 2006. "Parental Guidance and Supervised Learning," Discussion Papers 1432, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Jacob Goeree & Thomas Palfrey & Brian Rogers, 2004. "Self-Correcting Information Cascades," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000153, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Doyle, Matthew, 2002. "Informational Externalities, Strategic Delay, and the Search for Optimal Policy," Staff General Research Papers 10046, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.

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