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Follow the leader? A field experiment on social influence

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  • Ambler, Kate
  • Godlonton, Susan
  • Recalde, María P.

Abstract

We conduct an artefactual field experiment in endogenously formed groups in rural Malawi to investigate social influence in risk taking. Treatments vary whether individuals observe the behavior of a formally elected leader, an external leader, or a random peer. Results show social influence in risk taking with differential influence by leader type. The decisions made by peers are most influential, followed by those made by formal leaders, and then external leaders. Exploratory analysis suggests that participants follow peers because they extract information from their choices and share risks with them; while other forms of social utility are gained from following the example of leaders.

Suggested Citation

  • Ambler, Kate & Godlonton, Susan & Recalde, María P., 2021. "Follow the leader? A field experiment on social influence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 1280-1297.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:188:y:2021:i:c:p:1280-1297
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.05.022
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer effects; Risk taking; Lab-in-the-field; Malawi;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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