Advertising as a Distortion of Social Learning
By combining a theory of herding behavior with the phenomenon of availability heuristic, this paper shows that non-informative advertisements can affect people's choices by influencing their perception of product quality. We present a model in which people can learn about product quality by observing the choices of others. Consumers are, however, not able to fully distinguish between the observations of real people and fictitious characters in advertisements. Even if a person is aware of this limitation and updates his beliefs accordingly, it is still rational for him to choose the product he has observed most often. In equilibrium the most observed product is always most likely to be of the highest quality. The analysis has important policy implications.
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Volume (Year): 7 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
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- 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.
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- Albrecht, James & Lang, Harald & Vroman, Susan, 2002. "The effect of information on the well-being of the uninformed: what's the chance of getting a decent meal in an unfamiliar city?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 139-162, February.
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
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- Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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