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Information Cascades: Evidence from An Experiment with Financial Market Professionals

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  • Jonathan E. Alevy
  • Michael S. Haigh
  • John List

Abstract

Previous empirical studies of information cascades use either naturally occurring data or laboratory experiments with student subjects. We combine attractive elements from each of these lines of research by observing market professionals from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) in a controlled environment. As a baseline, we compare their behavior to student choices in similar treatments. We further examine whether, and to what extent, cascade formation is influenced by both private signal strength and the quality of previous public signals, as well as decision heuristics that differ from Bayesian rationality. Analysis of over 1,500 individual decisions suggests that CBOT professionals are better able to discern the quality of public signals than their student counterparts. This leads to much different cascade formation. Further, while the behavior of students is consistent with the notion that losses loom larger than gains, market professionals are unaffected by the domain of earnings. These results are important in both a positive and normative sense.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan E. Alevy & Michael S. Haigh & John List, 2006. "Information Cascades: Evidence from An Experiment with Financial Market Professionals," NBER Working Papers 12767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12767
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    Cited by:

    1. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 40(2), pages 347-370, May.
    2. Drehmann, Mathias & Oechssler, Jorg & Roider, Andreas, 2007. "Herding with and without payoff externalities -- an internet experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 391-415, April.
    3. List John A., 2007. "Field Experiments: A Bridge between Lab and Naturally Occurring Data," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-47, April.
    4. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A., 2009. "Field experiments in economics: The past, the present, and the future," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-18, January.
    5. Georg Weizsacker, 2010. "Do We Follow Others When We Should? A Simple Test of Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2340-2360, December.
    6. Steven D. Moffitt, 2018. "On a Constructive Theory of Markets," Papers 1801.02994, arXiv.org.

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    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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