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Fragility of Information Cascades: An Experimental Study using Elicited Beliefs

Author

Listed:
  • Frederic Koessler

    () (Paris School of Economics and CNRS)

  • Anthony Ziegelmeyer

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems, Strategic Interaction Group, Jena, Germany)

  • Juergen Bracht

    (University of Aberdeen Business School)

  • Eyal Winter

    (Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Abstract

This paper examines the occurrence and fragility of information cascades in laboratory experiments. One group of low informed subjects make predictions in sequence. In a matched pairs design, another set of high informed subjects observe the decisions of the first group and make predictions. According to the theory of information cascades (Bikhchandani, Hirshleifer, and Welch, 1992), if initial decisions coincide, an information cascade should occur: it is rational for subsequent players with low quality information to follow the observed pattern regardless of their private information. However, an information cascade should be fragile: it is always rational for subsequent players with high quality information to follow their private information. In line with existing experiments on information cascades, we find some evidence that low informed subjects follow the herd when it is rational, and this herding behavior occurs more frequently if there is a pronounced imbalance. The main finding of this paper is that information cascades are not fragile. We find strong evidence that highly informed subjects follow the herd regardless of their private information. In accordance with those observations we show, by explicitly eliciting subjects' beliefs about the state, that beliefs are not constant in the number of previous decisions that coincide, whether or not an information cascade already occurred. Subjects' behavior can be understood with a statistical model that allows for the possibility of errors in earlier decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Frederic Koessler & Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Juergen Bracht & Eyal Winter, 2008. "Fragility of Information Cascades: An Experimental Study using Elicited Beliefs," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-094, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2008-094
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Christoph March & Sebastian Kr?gel, 2013. "Do We Follow Others When We Should? A Simple Test of Rational Expectations: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2633-2642, October.
    2. repec:eee:eecrev:v:94:y:2017:i:c:p:148-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Christoph March, 2011. "Adaptive social learning," PSE Working Papers halshs-00572528, HAL.
    4. Crosetto, P. & Filippin, A., 2015. "The sound of others: suprising evidence of conformist behavior," Working Papers 2015-07, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    5. 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.
    6. Christoph March & Sebastian Krügel & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2012. "Do We Follow Private Information when We Should? Laboratory Evidence on Nave Herding," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-002, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    7. Bohren, J. Aislinn, 2016. "Informational herding with model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 222-247.
    8. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till & Hüning, Hendrik, 2013. "A comparison of endogenous and exogenous timing in a social learning experiment," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 167, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    9. Bossan, Benjamin & Jann, Ole & Hammerstein, Peter, 2015. "The evolution of social learning and its economic consequences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 266-288.
    10. Christoph March, 2011. "Adaptive social learning," Working Papers halshs-00572528, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Information cascades; elicited beliefs; experimental economics;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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