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The Sound of Others: Surprising Evidence of Conformist Behavior

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  • Crosetto, Paolo

    () (Université de Grenoble)

  • Filippin, Antonio

    () (University of Milan)

Abstract

It has been shown that subjects tend to follow others' behavior even when the external signals are uninformative. In this paper we go one step further, showing that conformism occurs even when the choices of others are not even presented to the subjects, but just indirectly perceived. We use the "Click" version of the Bomb Risk Elicitation Task, in which subjects can infer the behavior of others only from the mass of clicks heard. This signal is payoff-irrelevant and largely uninformative about the actual choices of the other participants. Moreover, it is never mentioned in the instructions and therefore it must be spontaneously (and possibly unconsciously) perceived in order to be used. We control the exposure of subjects to clicks by implementing treatments with and without earmuffs. Moreover, we test whether the introduction of a minimal form of commonality, i.e., facing a common rather than individual resolution of uncertainty, makes conformism more likely to emerge. We find strong evidence of conformist behavior even in such an adverse environment. Simply hearing the others clicking affects subjects' behavior. Introducing a common random draw results in a further dramatic shift of the average choices, in particular by women.

Suggested Citation

  • Crosetto, Paolo & Filippin, Antonio, 2015. "The Sound of Others: Surprising Evidence of Conformist Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 9029, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9029
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
    2. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2013. "The “bomb” risk elicitation task," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 31-65, August.
    4. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    5. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "Click‘n’Roll: No Evidence of Illusion of Control," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(3), pages 281-295, September.
    6. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3138-3160, November.
    7. Fosgaard, Toke Reinholt & Hansen, Lars Gaarn & Piovesan, Marco, 2013. "Separating Will from Grace: An experiment on conformity and awareness in cheating," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 279-284.
    8. Maria Bigoni & Marco Casari & Andrzej Skrzypacz & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2015. "Time Horizon and Cooperation in Continuous Time," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 587-616, March.
    9. 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.
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    11. Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Frédéric Koessler & Juergen Bracht & Eyal Winter, 2010. "Fragility of information cascades: an experimental study using elicited beliefs," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(2), pages 121-145, June.
    12. 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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    14. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "Click‘n’Roll: No Evidence of Illusion of Control," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(3), pages 281-295, September.
    2. Francesca Gioia, 2017. "Peer effects on risk behaviour: the importance of group identity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 100-129, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    conformism; risk attitude; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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