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Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence

  • Apestgeguia, Jose
  • Huck, Steffen
  • Oechssler, Jörg

We introduce a generalized theoretical approach to study imitation and subject it to rigorous experimental testing. In our theoretical analysis we find that the different predictions of previous imitation models are due to different informational assumptions, not to different behavioral rules. It is more important whom one imitates rather than how. In a laboratory experiment we test the different theories by systematically varying information conditions. We find significant effects of seemingly innocent changes in information. Moreover, the generalized imitation model predicts the differences between treatments well. The data provide support for imitation on the individual level, both in terms of choice and in terms of perception. But imitation is not unconditional. Rather individuals' propensity to imitate more successful actions is increasing in payoff differences.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 54.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:54
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  1. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  2. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 973-997.
  3. Kandori, Michihiro & Mailath, George J & Rob, Rafael, 1993. "Learning, Mutation, and Long Run Equilibria in Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 29-56, January.
  4. D. Canning, 2010. "Average Behavior in Learning Models," Levine's Working Paper Archive 490, David K. Levine.
  5. Selten, Reinhard & Apesteguia, Jose, 2005. "Experimentally observed imitation and cooperation in price competition on the circle," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 171-192, April.
  6. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1998. "Learning in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 631-639, May.
  7. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  8. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, June.
  9. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1998. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," Industrial Organization 9803004, EconWPA.
  10. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  11. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  12. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  13. Erev, Ido & Roth, Alvin E, 1998. "Predicting How People Play Games: Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 848-81, September.
  14. Abbink, Klaus & Brandts, Jordi, 2008. "24. Pricing in Bertrand competition with increasing marginal costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-31, May.
  15. Schlag, Karl H., 1999. "Which one should I imitate?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 493-522, May.
  16. Samuelson Larry, 1994. "Stochastic Stability in Games with Alternative Best Replies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-65, October.
  17. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  18. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  19. Fudenberg, Drew & Ellison, Glenn, 1995. "Word-of-Mouth Communication and Social Learning," Scholarly Articles 3196300, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  21. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91663 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Carlos Alós-Ferrer, 2001. "Cournot versus Walras in Dynamic Oligopolies with Memory," Vienna Economics Papers 0110, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
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