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An Experimental Test of Advice and Social Learning

  • Boðaçhan Çelen
  • Shachar Kariv
  • Andrew Schotter

Social learning describes any situation in which individuals learn by observing the behavior of others. In the real world, however, individuals learn not just by observing the actions of others but also from seeking advice. This paper introduces advice giving into the standard social-learning experiment of Çelen and Kariv (Çelen, B., S. Kariv. 2005. An experimental test of observational learning under imperfect information. Econom. Theory 26(3) 677-699). The experiments are designed so that both pieces of information--action and advice--are equally informative (in fact, identical) in equilibrium. Despite the informational equivalence of advice and actions, we find that subjects in a laboratory social-learning situation appear to be more willing to follow the advice given to them by their predecessor than to copy their action, and that the presence of advice increases subjects' welfare.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 784828000000000272.

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Date of creation: 27 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:784828000000000272
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  1. Lones Smith & Peter Sorensen, 2000. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 371-398, March.
  2. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
  3. Andrew Schotter & Barry Sopher, 2006. "Trust and trustworthiness in games: An experimental study of intergenerational advice," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 123-145, June.
  4. 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.
  5. Merlo, A. & Schotter, A., 2001. "Learning By Not Doing: An Experimental Investigation of Observational Learning," Working Papers 01-09, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  6. Goeree, Jacob & Palfrey, Thomas & Rogers, Brian & McKelvey, Richard, 2004. "Self-correcting Information Cascades," Working Papers 1197, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  7. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Scholarly Articles 3196332, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  9. Boğaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv, 2005. "An experimental test of observational learning under imperfect information," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 677-699, October.
  10. Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-62, December.
  11. Celen, Bogachan & Kariv, Shachar, 2004. "Observational learning under imperfect information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 72-86, April.
  12. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
  13. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter & Barry Sopher, 2006. "On the informational content of advice: a theoretical and experimental study," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 433-452, October.
  14. Bogaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv, 2004. "Distinguishing Informational Cascades from Herd Behavior in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 484-498, June.
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