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Models and Anti-Models: The Structure of Payoff-Dependent Social Learning

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  • Charles Efferson
  • Rafael Lalive
  • Peter J. Richerson,
  • Richard McElreath
  • Mark Lubell

Abstract

We conducted an experiment to describe how social learners use information about the relation between payoffs and behavior. Players chose between two technologies repeatedly. Payoffs were random, but one technology was better because its expected payoff was higher. Players were divided into two groups: 1) individual learners who knew their realized payoffs after each choice and 2) social learners, who had no private feedback about their own payoffs, but in each period could choose to learn which behavior had produced the lowest payoff among the individual learners or which behavior had produced the highest payoff. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the highest payoff, a model of imitating this successful behavior matches the data very closely. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the lowest payoff, they tended to choose the opposite behavior in early periods, while increasingly choosing the same behavior in late periods. This kind of rapid temporal heterogeneity in the use of social information has received little or no attention in the theoretical study of social learning.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 290.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:290

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Keywords: social learning; payoff information; gene-culture coevolution; laboratory experiment;

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  1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  2. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Manishi Prasad & Peter Wahlqvist & Rich Shikiar & Ya-Chen Tina Shih, 2004. "A," PharmacoEconomics, Springer Healthcare | Adis, vol. 22(4), pages 225-244.
  4. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
  5. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep, 1998. "Learning by experience and learning by imitating successful others," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 559-575, March.
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