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Misery loves company: Social regret and social interaction effects in choices under risk and uncertainty

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  • Cooper, David J.
  • Rege, Mari

Abstract

Extensive field evidence shows individuals' decisions in settings involving uncertainty depend on their peers' decisions. One hypothesized cause of peer group effects is social interaction effects: an individual's utility from an action is enhanced by others taking the same action. We employ a series of controlled laboratory experiments to study the causes of peer effects in choice under uncertainty. We find strong peer group effects in the laboratory. Our design allows us to rule out social learning, social norms, group affiliation, and complementarities as possible causes for the observed peer group effects, leaving social interaction effects as the likely cause. We use a combination of theory and empirical analysis to show that preferences including "social regret" are more consistent with the data than preferences including a taste for conformity. We observe spillover effects, as observing another's choice of one risky gamble makes all risky gambles more likely to be chosen.

Suggested Citation

  • Cooper, David J. & Rege, Mari, 2011. "Misery loves company: Social regret and social interaction effects in choices under risk and uncertainty," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 91-110, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:73:y:2011:i:1:p:91-110
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bougheas, Spiros & Nieboer, Jeroen & Sefton, Martin, 2015. "Risk taking and information aggregation in groups," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 34-47.
    2. repec:bpj:bejtec:v:18:y:2018:i:1:p:18:n:15 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Stephan Jagau & Theo (T.J.S.) Offerman, 2017. "Defaults, Normative Anchors and the Occurrence of Risky and Cautious Shifts," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-083/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Bougheas, Spiros & Nieboer, Jeroen & Sefton, Martin, 2013. "Risk-taking in social settings: Group and peer effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 273-283.
    5. Delfino, Alexia & Marengo, Luigi & Ploner, Matteo, 2016. "I did it your way. An experimental investigation of peer effects in investment choices," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 113-123.
    6. Francesca Gioia, 2017. "Peer effects on risk behaviour: the importance of group identity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 100-129, March.
    7. Amrei Lahno & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2015. "Peer effects in risk taking: Envy or conformity?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 73-95, February.
    8. Simon Gaechter & Lingbo Huang & Martin Sefton, 2017. "Disappointment Aversion and Social Comparisons in a Real-Effort Competition," CESifo Working Paper Series 6489, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Ambrus, Attila & Greiner, Ben & Pathak, Parag A., 2015. "How individual preferences are aggregated in groups: An experimental study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 1-13.
    10. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel & Stauf, Julia, 2015. "Social responsibility promotes conservative risk behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 109-127.
    11. Adam, Marc T.P. & Kroll, Eike B. & Teubner, Timm, 2014. "A note on coupled lotteries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 96-99.
    12. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Friehe, Tim, 2014. "Stop watching and start listening! The impact of coaching and peer observation in tournaments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 56-70.
    13. Philip Brookins & Jennifer Brown & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2016. "Peer Information and Risk-taking under Competitive and Non-competitive Pay Schemes," NBER Working Papers 22486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Eriksen, Kristoffer W & Kvaløy, Ola, 2015. "2015/01 No guts, no glory: An experiment on excessive risk-taking by Kristoffer W. Eriksen and Ola Kvaløy," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2015/1, University of Stavanger.
    15. Hohnisch, M. & Pittnauer, S. & Selten, R. & Pfingsten, A. & Eraßmy, J., 2014. "Gender differences in decisions under profound uncertainty are non-robust to the availability of information on equally informed others’ decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 40-58.

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