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Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice?


  • Nattavudh Powdthavee
  • Yohanes E. Riyanto


We investigated experimentally whether people can be induced to believe in a non-existent expert, and subsequently pay for what can only be described as transparently useless advice about future chance events. Consistent with the theoretical predictions made by Rabin (2002) and Rabin and Vayanos (2010), we show empirically that the answer is yes and that the size of the error made systematically by people is large.

Suggested Citation

  • Nattavudh Powdthavee & Yohanes E. Riyanto, 2012. "Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1153, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1153

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sigrid Suetens & Claus B. Galbo-Jørgensen & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2016. "Predicting Lotto Numbers: A Natural Experiment On The Gambler'S Fallacy And The Hot-Hand Fallacy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 584-607, June.
    2. Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Inference by Believers in the Law of Small Numbers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 775-816.
    3. Fama, Eugene F, 1991. " Efficient Capital Markets: II," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1575-1617, December.
    4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    5. Jonathan Guryan & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Gambling at Lucky Stores: Empirical Evidence from State Lottery Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 458-473, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Leuermann & Benjamin Roth, 2012. "Does Good Advice Come Cheap?: On the Assessment of Risk Preferences in the Lab and in the Field," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 475, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Leuermann, Andrea & Roth, Benjamin, 2012. "Does good advice come cheap? - On the assessment of risk preferences in the lab and the field," Working Papers 0534, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Behavioral finance; hot-hand; random streak; expertise; information;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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