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Informational Asymmetries and Observational Learning in Search

  • Liran Einav


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    As economics modeling moves from super rational decision makers to considering boundedly rational agents, some economic problems deserve a second look. This paper studies the effects of learning on the efficiency of search. Once learning is taken into account, the structure of information flow becomes important. In particular, I highlight the truncated information structure in the search problem. Agents stop searching once a sufficiently attractive price is found. Therefore, they observe the performance of shorter searches, but do not directly observe the performance of longer searches. I design and conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis that this asymmetric flow of information leads agents to search too little. I find strong evidence in its favor. This suggests that in the presence of learning, the provision of a more symmetric information structure will make search more efficient. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 3 (May)
    Pages: 241-259

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:30:y:2005:i:3:p:241-259
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    1. Thomas Palfrey, 2002. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private Value Auctions," Theory workshop papers 357966000000000089, UCLA Department of Economics.
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    4. Selten, Reinhard & Joachim Buchta, 1994. "Experimental Sealed Bid First Price Auctions with Directly Observed Bid Functions," Discussion Paper Serie B 270, University of Bonn, Germany.
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    7. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Virginia Economics Online Papers 345, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    8. Erev, Ido & Roth, Alvin E, 1998. "Predicting How People Play Games: Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 848-81, September.
    9. Sergiu Hart & Andreu Mas-Colell, 1997. "A Simple Adaptive Procedure Leading to Correlated Equilibrium," Game Theory and Information 9703006, EconWPA, revised 24 Mar 1997.
    10. Hey, John D., 1982. "Search for rules for search," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 65-81, March.
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    13. Butler, David & Loomes, Graham, 1997. "Quasi-rational Search under Incomplete Information: Some Evidence from Experiments," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 65(2), pages 127-44, March.
    14. Schotter, Andrew & Braunstein, Yale M, 1981. "Economic Search: An Experimental Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 1-25, January.
    15. A. Roth & I. Er’ev, 2010. "Learning in Extensive Form Games: Experimental Data and Simple Dynamic Models in the Intermediate Run," Levine's Working Paper Archive 387, David K. Levine.
    16. Roth, Alvin E. & Erev, Ido, 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games: Experimental data and simple dynamic models in the intermediate term," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 164-212.
    17. Kohn, Meir G. & Shavell, Steven, 1974. "The theory of search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 93-123, October.
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