Advertising as a Distortion of Social Learning
By combining a theory of herding behavior with the phenomenon of availability heuristic, this paper shows that non-informative advertisements can affect people’s choices by influencing their perception of product quality. We present a model in which people can learn about product quality by observing the choices of others. Consumers are, however, not able to fully distinguish between the observations of real people and fictitious characters in advertisements. Even if a person is aware of this limitation and updates his beliefs accordingly, it is still rational for him to choose the product he has observed most often. In equilibrium the most observed product is always most likely to be of the highest quality. The analysis has important policy implications.
|Date of creation:||14 Nov 2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway|
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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- Kihlstrom, Richard E & Riordan, Michael H, 1984. "Advertising as a Signal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 427-450, June.
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- Nelson, Philip, 1974. "Advertising as Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 729-754, July/Aug..
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
- 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.
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
- Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-862, December.
- Yuk-Shee Chan & Hayne Leland, 1982. "Prices and Qualities in Markets with Costly Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 499-516.
- Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
- Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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