IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Fragility of information cascades: an experimental study using elicited beliefs

  • Anthony Ziegelmeyer


  • Frédéric Koessler


  • Juergen Bracht


  • Eyal Winter


This paper examines the occurrence and fragility of information cascades in laboratory experiments. One group of low informed subjects make predictions in sequence. In a matched pairs design, another set of high informed subjects observe the decisions of the first group and make predictions. According to the theory of information cascades (Bikhchandani, Hirshleifer, and Welch, 1992), if initial decisions coincide, an information cascade should occur: it is rational for subsequent players with low quality information to follow the observed pattern regardless of their private information. However, an information cascade should be fragile: it is always rational for subsequent players with high quality information to follow their private information. In line with existing experiments on information cascades, we find some evidence that low informed subjects follow the herd when it is rational, and this herding behavior occurs more frequently if there is a pronounced imbalance. The main finding of this paper is that information cascades are not fragile. We find strong evidence that highly informed subjects follow the herd regardless of their private information. In accordance with those observations we show, by explicitly eliciting subjects' beliefs about the state, that beliefs are not constant in the number of previous decisions that coincide, whether or not an information cascade already occurred. Subjects' behavior can be understood with a statistical model that allows for the possibility of errors in earlier decisions.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 121-145

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:13:y:2010:i:2:p:121-145
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Philip A. Haile & Ali Horta�su & Grigory Kosenok, 2008. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 180-200, March.
  2. Plott, Charles & Hung, Angela, 1998. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity Rewarding Institutions," Working Papers 1051, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Mathias Drehmann & Jörg Oechssler, 2004. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets - An Internet Experiment," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 55, Econometric Society.
  4. Mariana Blanco & Dirk Engelmann & Alexander Koch & Hans-Theo Normann, 2010. "Belief elicitation in experiments: is there a hedging problem?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 412-438, December.
  5. Jacob K. Goeree & Thomas R. Palfrey & Brian W. Rogers & Richard D. McKelvey, 2006. "Self-Correcting Information Cascades," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000211, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Munther A. Dahleh & Ilan Lobel & Asuman Ozdaglar, 2011. "Bayesian Learning in Social Networks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1201-1236.
  8. Kraemer, Carlo & Nöth, Markus & Weber, Martin, 2000. "Information Aggregation with Costly Information and Random Ordering: Experimental Evidence," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 00-35, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  9. Anderson, Lisa R, 2001. "Payoff Effects in Information Cascade Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 609-15, October.
  10. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521530927, October.
  11. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521824019, October.
  12. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  13. Anderson, Lisa R. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "Information Cascade Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  14. Dorothea Kübler & Georg Weizsäcker, 2005. "Are Longer Cascades More Stable?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 330-339, 04/05.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:13:y:2010:i:2:p:121-145. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.