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Superstition and Rational Learning

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  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David K Levine

Abstract

We argue that some, but not all, superstitions can persist when learning is rational and players are patient, and illustrate our argument with an example inspired by the Code of Hammurabi. The code specified an "appeal by surviving in the river" as a way of deciding whether an accusation was true. According to our theory, a mechanism that uses superstitions two or more steps off the equilibrium path, such as "appeal by surviving in the river," is more likely to persist than a superstition where the false beliefs are only one step off the equilibrium path. (JEL C72, C73, D83, D84)
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Suggested Citation

  • Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2005. "Superstition and Rational Learning," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000731, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:618897000000000731
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Drew Fudenberg & David M. Kreps & David K. Levine, 2008. "On the Robustness of Equilibrium Refinements," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: A Long-Run Collaboration On Long-Run Games, chapter 5, pages 67-93 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    8. Aoyagi, Masaki, 1996. "Evolution of Beliefs and the Nash Equilibrium of Normal Form Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 444-469, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 2009. "Self-confirming equilibrium and the Lucas critique," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2354-2371, November.
    2. Jan Fidrmuc & J. D. Tena, 2015. "Friday the 13th: The Empirics of Bad Luck," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 317-334, August.
    3. Paolo E. Giordani & Michele Ruta, 2016. "Self-confirming immigration policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 361-378.
    4. Nicole M. Fortin & Andrew J. Hill & Jeff Huang, 2014. "Superstition In The Housing Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 974-993, July.
    5. Nmadu, Job N. & Simpa, James O., 2014. "Rethinking The Technical Efficiency Of Small Scale Yam Farmers In Nigeria Using Conventional And Non-Conventional Inefficiency Parameters," 2014 Conference (58th), February 4-7, 2014, Port Maquarie, Australia 165866, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    6. Johnson, Noel D. & Nye, John V.C., 2011. "Does fortune favor dragons?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 85-97, April.
    7. Gershman, Boris, 2015. "The economic origins of the evil eye belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 119-144.
    8. Daniel Levy & Avichai Snir, 2017. "Potterian Economics," Working Papers 002-17 JEL Codes: A13, A1, International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
    9. Ng, Travis & Chong, Terence & Du, Xin, 2010. "The value of superstitions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 293-309, June.
    10. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Simone Cerreia-Vioglio & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci, 2015. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 646-677, February.
    11. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Simone Cerreia-Vioglio & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci, 2011. "Selfconfirming Equilibrium and Uncertainty," Working Papers 428, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    12. Zacharias Maniadis, 2008. "Essays in Aggregate Information, The Media and Special Interests," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002258, David K. Levine.
    13. McElvaney, Terry & Lunn, Pete & McGowan, Féidhlim, 2018. "Do consumers understand PCP car finance? An experimental investigation," Papers WP586, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    14. Woo, Chi-Keung & Horowitz, Ira & Luk, Stephen & Lai, Aaron, 2008. "Willingness to pay and nuanced cultural cues: Evidence from Hong Kong's license-plate auction market," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 35-53, February.
    15. Siniver, Erez & Yaniv, Gideon, 2015. "Kissing the mezuzah and cognitive performance: Is there an observable benefit?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 40-46.
    16. Robert Meyer & Joachim Vosgerau & Vishal Singh & Joel Urbany & Gal Zauberman & Michael Norton & Tony Cui & Brian Ratchford & Alessandro Acquisti & David Bell & Barbara Kahn, 2010. "Behavioral research and empirical modeling of marketing channels: Implications for both fields and a call for future research," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 301-315, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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