IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Social Interaction Effects and Choice Under Uncertainty. An Experimental Study

  • Cooper, David


    (Florida State University)

  • Rege, Mari


    (University of Stavanger)

Extensive field evidence shows individuals’ decisions in settings involving choice under uncertainty (e.g. savings and investment choices) depend on the decisions of their peers. One hypothesized cause of peer group effects is social interaction effects: an individual’s utility from an action is enhanced by others taking the same action. We employ a series of controlled laboratory experiments to study the causes of peer effects in choice under uncertainty. We find strong peer group effects in the laboratory. Allowing feedback about others’ choices increases group polarization and reduces the likelihood that subjects will choose risky or ambiguous gambles. We observe spillover effects, as observing another’s choice of one risky (safe) gamble makes all risky (safe) gambles more likely to be chosen. Our design allows us to eliminate social learning, social norms, group affiliation, and complementarities as possible causes for the observed peer group effects, leaving social interaction effects as the likely cause. We use a combination of theory and empirical analysis to show that preferences including “social regret” are more consistent with the data than preferences including a taste for conformity.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Stavanger in its series UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 2009/24.

in new window

Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 14 Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:stavef:2009_024
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Stavanger, NO-4036 Stavanger, Norway
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 9153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
  3. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2004. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000439, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2007. "Auctions with Anticipated Regret: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1407-1418, September.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working Papers 9903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Cattaneo, Alejandra & Lalive, Rafael, 2006. "Social Interactions and Schooling Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5816, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Aizer, Anna & Currie, Janet, 2004. "Networks or neighborhoods? Correlations in the use of publicly-funded maternity care in California," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2573-2585, December.
  10. Duflo, Esther & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "Participation and investment decisions in a retirement plan: the influence of colleagues' choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 121-148, July.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. 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.
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:1:p:87-130 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:3:p:815-842 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 10777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2002. ""Crime" in the lab-detecting social interaction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 859-869, May.
  19. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Elena Katok, 2007. "Regret in auctions: theory and evidence," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 81-101, October.
  20. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  21. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:4:p:1239-1285 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:stavef:2009_024. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bernt Arne Odegaard)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.