IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v99y2009i3p864-82.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Observational Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Hongbin Cai
  • Yuyu Chen
  • Hanming Fang

Abstract

We report results from a randomized natural field experiment conducted in a restaurant dining setting to distinguish the observational learning effect from the saliency effect. We find that, when customers are given ranking information of the five most popular dishes, the demand for those dishes increases by 13 to 20 percent. We do not find a significant saliency effect. We also find modest evidence that the observational learning effects are stronger among infrequent customers, and that dining satisfaction is increased when customers are presented with the information of the top five dishes, but not when presented with only names of some sample dishes. (JEL C93, D83)

Suggested Citation

  • Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang, 2009. "Observational Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 864-882, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:3:p:864-82
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.3.864
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.99.3.864
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june09/20071220_data.zip
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june09/20071220_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    3. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    4. Lones Smith & Peter Sorensen, 2000. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 371-398, March.
    5. Duflo, Esther & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "Participation and investment decisions in a retirement plan: the influence of colleagues' choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 121-148, July.
    6. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    7. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521530927, October.
    8. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2008. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1150-1196, December.
    9. Edward Vytlacil & James J. Heckman, 2001. "Policy-Relevant Treatment Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 107-111, May.
    10. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
    11. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2003. "Networks, social learning, and technology adoption: The case of deworming drugs in kenya," Natural Field Experiments 00312, The Field Experiments Website.
    12. List John A., 2007. "Field Experiments: A Bridge between Lab and Naturally Occurring Data," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-47, April.
    13. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1994. "Diffusion as a Learning Process: Evidence from HYV Cotton," Working Papers 228, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    14. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2010. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 35-69, March.
    15. Bayer, Patrick & Ross, Stephen L. & Topa, Giorgio, 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Center Discussion Papers 28433, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    16. Jonathan E. Alevy & Michael S. Haigh & John A. List, 2007. "Information Cascades: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Financial Market Professionals," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(1), pages 151-180, February.
    17. 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.
    18. repec:pri:rpdevs:besley_case_diffusion is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    20. Bogaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv, 2004. "Distinguishing Informational Cascades from Herd Behavior in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 484-498, June.
    21. Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-862, December.
    22. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521824019, October.
    23. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    24. repec:pri:rpdevs:besley_case_diffusion.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Observational Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment (AER 2009) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:3:p:864-82. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.