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Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence

  • Jose Apesteguia
  • Steffen Huck
  • Jorg Oechssler

We introduce a generalized theoretical approach to study imitation models and subject the models to rigorous experimental testing. In our theoretical analysis we find that the different 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 that the generalized imitation model predicts the differences between treatments well. The data also provide 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 UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000000132.

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Date of creation: 22 Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:122247000000000132
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  1. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2004. "Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 435-446, April.
  2. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 1995. "Word-of-Mouth Communication and Social Learning," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 93-125.
  3. 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.
  4. Fernando Vega Redondo, 1996. "The evolution of walrasian behavior," Working Papers. Serie AD 1996-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, March.
  8. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  9. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "Learning in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2222, David K. Levine.
  10. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  11. Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  12. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  13. Schlag, Karl H., 1996. "Which one should I imitate?," Discussion Paper Serie B 365, University of Bonn, Germany.
  14. Plott, Charles R., 1989. "An updated review of industrial organization: Applications of experimental methods," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 19, pages 1109-1176 Elsevier.
  15. 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.
  16. Offerman, T.J.S. & Potters, J.J.M. & Sonnemans, J., 2002. "Imitation and belief learning in an oligopoly experiment," Other publications TiSEM a6a771c5-31ba-4193-8f76-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  17. 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.
  18. Samuelson Larry, 1994. "Stochastic Stability in Games with Alternative Best Replies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-65, October.
  19. Canning, D., 1990. "Average Behaviour In Learning Models," Papers 156, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
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