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Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence -

  • Jose Apesteguia


    (Public University of Navarre, Department of Economics)

  • Steffen Huck


    (, Department of Economics and ELSE)

  • Jörg Oechssler


    (University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics)

We introduce a generalized theoretical approach to study imitation and subject it to rigorous experimental testing. In our theoretical analysis we find that the di¤erent predictions of previous imitation models are due to different informational assumptions, not to different behavioral rules. It is more important whom one imitates rather than how. In a laboratory experiment we test the different theories by systematically varying information conditions. We find significant effects of seemingly innocent changes in information. Moreover, the generalized imitation model predicts the differences between treatments well. The data pro- vide support for imitation on the individual level, both in terms of choice and in terms of perception. But imitation is not unconditional. Rather individuals propensity to imitate more successful actions is increasing in payoff differences.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0419.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2005
Date of revision: Apr 2005
Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0419
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  2. Schlag, Karl H., 1998. "Why Imitate, and If So, How?, : A Boundedly Rational Approach to Multi-armed Bandits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 130-156, January.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, December.
  4. Samuelson Larry, 1994. "Stochastic Stability in Games with Alternative Best Replies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-65, October.
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  6. K. Schlag, 2010. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Levine's Working Paper Archive 454, David K. Levine.
  7. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 1997. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 97-116/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  9. Schlag, Karl H., 1999. "Which one should I imitate?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 493-522, May.
  10. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  11. Canning, David, 1992. "Average behavior in learning models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 442-472, August.
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  13. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  14. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
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  16. 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.
  17. Abbink, Klaus & Brandts, Jordi, 2008. "24. Pricing in Bertrand competition with increasing marginal costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-31, May.
  18. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1998. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," Industrial Organization 9803004, EconWPA.
  19. Reinhard Selten & Jose Apesteguia, 2002. "Experimentally Observed Imitation and Cooperation in Price Competition on the Circle," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse19_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  20. Alos-Ferrer, Carlos, 2004. "Cournot versus Walras in dynamic oligopolies with memory," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 193-217, February.
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  22. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
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