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An experimental test of observational learning under imperfect information


  • Boğaçhan Çelen


  • Shachar Kariv



Nearly all observational learning models assume that individuals can observe all the decisions that have previously been made. In reality, such perfect information is rarely available. To explore the difference between observational learning under perfect and imperfect information, this paper takes an experimental look at a situation in which individuals learn by observing the behavior of their immediate predecessors. Our experimental design uses the procedures of Çelen and Kariv [9] and is based on the theory of Çelen and Kariv [10]. We find that imitation is much less frequent when subjects have imperfect information, even less frequent than the theory predicts. Further, while we find strong evidence that under perfect information a form of generalized Bayesian behavior adequately explains behavior in the laboratory, under imperfect information behavior is not consistent even with this generalization of Bayesian behavior. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Boğaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv, 2005. "An experimental test of observational learning under imperfect information," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(3), pages 677-699, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:26:y:2005:i:3:p:677-699 DOI: 10.1007/s00199-004-0542-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Indranil Chakraborty & Georgia Kosmopoulou, 2004. "Auctions with shill bidding," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 24(2), pages 271-287, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Boðaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv & Andrew Schotter, 2005. "Words Speak Louder than Actions and Improve Welfare: An Experimental Test of Advice and Social Learning," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000250, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Offerman, Theo & Schotter, Andrew, 2009. "Imitation and luck: An experimental study on social sampling," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 461-502, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Paul J. Healy & John Conlon & Yeochang Yoon, 2016. "Information Cascades with Informative Ratings: An Experimental Test," Working Papers 16-05, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2012. "Social learning in networks: a Quantal Response Equilibrium analysis of experimental data," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 16(2), pages 135-157, September.
    6. James C. D. Fisher & John Wooders, 2017. "Interacting information cascades: on the movement of conventions between groups," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 63(1), pages 211-231, January.
    7. Bou{g}açhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv & Andrew Schotter, 2010. "An Experimental Test of Advice and Social Learning," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(10), pages 1687-1701, October.
    8. Vincent Mak & Rami Zwick, 2014. "Experimenting and learning with localized direct communication," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(2), pages 262-284, June.
    9. Eyster, Erik & Rabin, Matthew & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2015. "An Experiment on Social Mislearning," CEPR Discussion Papers 11020, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Jonathan E. Alevy & Michael S. Haigh & John List, 2006. "Information Cascades: Evidence from An Experiment with Financial Market Professionals," NBER Working Papers 12767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Hirshleifer, David & Teoh, Siew Hong, 2008. "Thought and Behavior Contagion in Capital Markets," MPRA Paper 9164, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. B. Douglas Bernheim & Christine L. Exley, 2015. "Understanding Conformity: An Experimental Investigation," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-070, Harvard Business School.
    13. Ting Liu & Pasquale Schiraldi, 2012. "New product launch: herd seeking or herd preventing?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(3), pages 627-648, November.
    14. David Godes & José C. Silva, 2012. "Sequential and Temporal Dynamics of Online Opinion," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(3), pages 448-473, May.


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