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Fragility of Information Cascades: An Experimental Study using Elicited Beliefs

  • 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)

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.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2008-094.

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Date of creation: 20 Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2008-094
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  1. Plott, Charles & Hung, Angela, 1998. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity Rewarding Institutions," Working Papers 1051, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Jacob K. Goeree & Thomas R. Palfrey & Brian W. Rogers & Richard D. McKelvey, 2006. "Self-Correcting Information Cascades," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000211, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  4. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2008. "Belief Elicitation in Experiments: Is there a Hedging Problem?," IZA Discussion Papers 3517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Mathias Drehmann & Joerg Oechssler & Andreas Roider, 2002. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets - An Internet Experiment," Finance 0210005, EconWPA.
  6. Anderson, Lisa R, 2001. "Payoff Effects in Information Cascade Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 609-15, October.
  7. Philip A. Haile & Ali Hortacsu & Grigory Kosenok, 0820. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1432R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jun 0820.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Munther A. Dahleh & Ilan Lobel & Asuman Ozdaglar, 2008. "Bayesian Learning in Social Networks," NBER Working Papers 14040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dorothea Kübler & Georg Weizsäcker, 2005. "Are Longer Cascades More Stable?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 330-339, 04/05.
  10. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  11. Kraemer, Carlo & Noth, Markus & Weber, Martin, 2006. "Information aggregation with costly information and random ordering: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 423-432, March.
  12. Anderson, Lisa R. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "Information Cascade Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
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