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Treasure Hunt: Social Learning in the Field

Listed author(s):
  • Mobius, Markus
  • Phan, Tuan
  • Szeidl, Adam

We seed noisy information to members of a real-world social network to study how information diffusion and information aggregation jointly shape social learning. Our environment features substantial social learning. We show that learning occurs via diffusion which is highly imperfect: signals travel only up to two steps in the conversation network and indirect signals are transmitted noisily. We then compare two theories of information aggregation: a naive model in which people double-count signals that reach them through multiple paths, and a sophisticated model in which people avoid double-counting by tagging the source of information. We show that to distinguish between these models of aggregation, it is critical to explicitly account for imperfect diffusion. When we do so, we find that our data are most consistent with the sophisticated tagged model.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 10493.

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Date of creation: Mar 2015
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10493
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  1. Brandts, Jordi & Giritligil, Ayça Ebru & Weber, Roberto A., 2015. "An experimental study of persuasion bias and social influence in networks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 214-229.
  2. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119.
  3. 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.
  4. Corazzini, Luca & Pavesi, Filippo & Petrovich, Beatrice & Stanca, Luca, 2012. "Influential listeners: An experiment on persuasion bias in social networks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1276-1288.
  5. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  6. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2007. "The Illusion of Sustainability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1007-1065.
  7. Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2012. "Social learning in networks: a Quantal Response Equilibrium analysis of experimental data," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 16(2), pages 135-157, September.
  8. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2005. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521848053, September.
  9. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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