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Endogenous Preferences and Conformity: Evidence From a Pilot Experiment

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Author Info

  • Sergio Beraldo

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Napoli, Italy)

  • Valerio Filoso

    ()
    (Department of Law, University of Napoli, Italy)

  • Marco Stimolo

    ()
    (Department of Law, University of Napoli, Italy)

Abstract

Conformity behavior, i.e., the agreement between an individual’s choices and the prevailing behavior of a reference group, is a commonly observed phenomenon. Though some types of social interactions may give raise to specific incentives to adopt either a majoritarian or a contrarian behavior, we want to investigate whether the same behavioral pattern emerges even when no economic motivator is present. To accomplish this task, we employ an experimental Vickrey median price auction designed to provide incentives to reveal individual preferences truthfully. Whereas we feed the control group with just the median price, we give out additional information on other players’ bids for those in the treated groups. These informations are designed to provide hints at revising individual bids. Our main results point to a strong tendency of the individuals to adapt their behavior to those of the individuals which can be observed. Moreover, although a clear shaping effect (a regression toward the median price) does emerge for the control group, the provision of information about the actual behavior of a sample of the relevant group is able to minimize or neutralize the shaping effect. Specifically, we find that players adjust to a divergence between their bids and the average bid of a reference group by a factor of 47.4%—87.3%. These figures point to a relevant role for conformity in group behavior.

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File URL: http://eco83.econ.unito.it/RePEc/wp/m24.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Statistics (Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Sociali e Matematico-Statistiche), University of Torino in its series Working papers with number 024.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tur:wpapnw:024

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Keywords: Endogenous preferences; shaping effect; social conformity; Vickrey auction;

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References

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  1. Graham Loomes & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2007. "Preference reversals and disparities between willingness to pay and willingness to accept in repeated markets," Discussion Papers 2007-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Loomes, Graham & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2002. "Do Anomalies Disappear in Repeated Markets?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 132, Royal Economic Society.
  3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  4. Klick, Jonathan & Parisi, Francesco, 2008. "Social networks, self-denial, and median preferences: Conformity as an evolutionary strategy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1319-1327, August.
  5. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
  6. Fabio Tufano, 2010. "Are ‘true’ preferences revealed in repeated markets? An experimental demonstration of context-dependent valuations," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 1-13, March.
  7. David J. Butler & Graham C. Loomes, 2007. "Imprecision as an Account of the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 277-297, March.
  8. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-105, February.
  9. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
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Cited by:
  1. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till, 2014. "An experimental study on social anchoring," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 196, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

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