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Information Cascades: Evidence From A Field Experiment With Financial Market Professionals

  • Alevy, Jonathan E.
  • Haigh, Michael S.
  • List, John A.

In settings characterized by imperfect information about an underlying state of nature, but where inferences are made sequentially and are publicly observable, decisions may yield a "cascade" in which everyone herds on a single choice. While cascades potentially play a role in a variety of settings, from technology adoption to social processes such as mate selection, understanding cascade phenomena is imperative for financial markets. Previous empirical efforts studying cascade formation have used both naturally occurring data and laboratory experiments. In this paper, we combine one of the attractive elements of each line of research-observation of market professionals in a controlled environment-to push the investigation of cascade behavior into several new directions. Numerous empirical insights are obtained; perhaps most importantly, we find that market professionals behave quite differently than a control group of student subjects. In particular, market professionals, more so than students, base their decisions on the "quality" of the public signal, leading them to be more likely to disregard "bad" signals. And, unlike in the case with students, for market professionals, the propensity to be Bayesian does not differ significantly across the gain and loss domains. These results have important implications in both a positive and normative sense.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/28608
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Paper provided by University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in its series Working Papers with number 28608.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ags:umdrwp:28608
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  1. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
  2. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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  7. 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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  9. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Barberis, Nicholas & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1998. "A model of investor sentiment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 307-343, September.
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  12. Frédéric KOESSLER & Anthony ZIEGELMEYER, 2000. "Tie-breaking Rules and Informational Cascades: A Note," Working Papers of BETA 2000-09, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  13. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
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