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Homogeneous Actions and Hetergeneous Beliefs: Experimental Evidence on the Formation of Information Cascades


  • Angela Hung
  • Jeff Dominitz


Theories on the formation of information cascades have been tested in experimental settings in which players publicly announce binary expectations of a binary event based on private signals and preceding public announcements. We replicate and supplement the experimental data collection by privately eliciting beliefs on the signals and the event. Therefore, we are able to directly observe how players update expectations and form inferences based on the announcements of others. Past studies have focused on one implication of cascade theory--the realization of cascades. Yet the prediction of the model is stronger than simply that players will follow the example of others once a cascade has begun. In fact, new public announcements are predicted to have no effect on the subjective expectations of others, because these announcements contain no information about private signals. We see in our data that cascade behavior arises as frequently as in previous cascade experiments without belief elicitation. Yet, we find evidence of systematic heterogeneity in belief-updating rules across subjects. As a result, a Bayesian decision maker may extract information about private signals from public announcements made during a cascade. In fact, reported subjective probabilities are revised in response to announcements after a cascade has begun.

Suggested Citation

  • Angela Hung & Jeff Dominitz, 2004. "Homogeneous Actions and Hetergeneous Beliefs: Experimental Evidence on the Formation of Information Cascades," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 64, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:nawm04:64

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2006:i:11:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Manski, Charles F. & Neri, Claudia, 2013. "First- and second-order subjective expectations in strategic decision-making: Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 232-254.
    3. Jacob K. Goeree & Thomas R. Palfrey & Brian W. Rogers & Richard D. McKelvey, 2007. "Self-Correcting Information Cascades," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 733-762.
    4. Drehmann, Mathias & Oechssler, Jorg & Roider, Andreas, 2007. "Herding with and without payoff externalities -- an internet experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 391-415, April.
    5. Morone, Andrea & Fiore, Annamaria & Sandri, Serena, 2007. "On the absorbability of herd behaviour and informational cascades: an experimental analysis," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 15/07, Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
    6. Adeline Delavande, 2008. "Measuring revisions to subjective expectations," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 43-82, February.
    7. Shunichiro Sasaki & Toshiji Kawagoe, 2007. "Belief Updating in Individual and Social Learning: A Field Experiment on the Internet," ISER Discussion Paper 0690, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    8. Dominitz, Jeff & Hung, Angela A., 2009. "Empirical models of discrete choice and belief updating in observational learning experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 94-109, February.

    More about this item


    information cascades; belief updating; probability elicitation;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty


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