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Informational Herding and Optimal Experimentation

  • Lones Smith

    (Dept. of Economics, University of Michigan)

  • Peter Norman Sorensen

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

We show that far from capturing a formally new phenomenon, informational herding is really a special case of single-person experimentation -- and 'bad herds' the typical failure of complete learning. We then analyze the analogous team equilibrium, where individuals maximize the present discounted welfare of posterity. To do so, we generalize Gittins indices to our non-bandit learning problem, and thereby characterize when contrarian behaviour arises: (i) While herds are still constrained efficient, they arise for a strictly smaller belief set. (ii) A log-concave log-likelihood ratio density robustly ensures that individuals should lean more against their myopic preference for an action the more popular it becomes.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d15b/d1552.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1552.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1552
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Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/

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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  1. Smith, L. & Sorensen, P., 1996. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Economics Papers 115, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Vives, Xavier, 1993. "How Fast Do Rational Agents Learn?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 329-47, April.
  3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  4. Matthew Doyle, 2010. "Informational externalities, strategic delay, and optimal investment subsidies," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(3), pages 941-966, August.
  5. Aghion Philippe & Bolton, Patrick & Harris Christopher & Jullien Bruno, 1991. "Optimal learning by experimentation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9104, CEPREMAP.
  6. Chamley, Christophe & Gale, Douglas, 1994. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1065-85, September.
  7. Burdett, Kenneth, 1996. "Truncated means and variances," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 263-267, September.
  8. Sgroi, D., 2000. "Optimizing Information in the Herd: Guinea Pigs, Profit and Welfare," Economics Papers 2000-w14, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  9. Amir, R., 1991. "Sensitivity analysis of multi-sector optimal economic dynamics," CORE Discussion Papers 1991006, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  11. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  12. McLennan, Andrew, 1984. "Price dispersion and incomplete learning in the long run," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 331-347, September.
  13. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 1991. "Optimal Learning by Experimentation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 621-54, July.
  14. Dow, James, 1991. "Search Decisions with Limited Memory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 1-14, January.
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