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The Right Choice at the Right Time: A Herding Experiment in Endogenous Time

  • Daniel Sgroi


Herding describes the phenomenon in decision-making where an economic agent disregards his own private information to follow the actions of his predecessors as in Banerjee (1992). With later decision-makers simply copying earlier decisions their private information cannot be inferred by other decision-makers and will be forever lost. There is some experimental evidence on simple sequential herding of this type in the literature, notably Anderson and Holt (1997). This paper differs by allowing subjects to delay their decision-making in order to benefit from observing others' actions as in more recent herding models such as Chamley and Gale (1994). The results in this paper suggest that subjects will indeed delay when their private information is not sufficiently strong. Despite this ability to wait, as predicted in the theoretical literature, cascades remained ubiquitous and more worrying still, reverse-cascades occurred in which incorrect decisions made by early decision-makers produced informational cascades on the wrong action. In an alternative design, informing subjects that they had made incorrect choices only made matters worse as subjects moved further away from rational behavior. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 159-180

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:6:y:2003:i:2:p:159-180
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  1. Sgroi, D., 2000. "Optimizing Information in the Herd: Guinea Pigs, Profit and Welfare," Economics Papers 2000-w14, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1987. "Rational Models of Irrational Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 137-42, May.
  3. Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-62, December.
  4. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
  5. Welch, Ivo, 1992. " Sequential Sales, Learning, and Cascades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 695-732, June.
  6. Camerer, Colin & Weigelt, Keith, 1991. "Information Mirages in Experimental Asset Markets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 463-93, October.
  7. Louise Allsopp & John Hey, 2000. "Two Experiments to Test a Model of Herd Behaviour," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 121-136, October.
  8. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  9. 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.
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