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Lone wolf or herd animal? Information choice and learning from others

  • Author(s): Duffy, J
  • Hopkins, E
  • Kornienko, T
  • et al.
Abstract

We report on an experiment that distinguishes between rational social learning and behavioral information source bias. Subjects are asked to correctly guess the current binary state of the world. Differently from other social learning studies, subjects must choose between receiving a private, noisy signal about the current state or observing the past guesses of other subjects in the prior period. Our design varies the persistence of the state across time, which affects whether private or social information is optimal. Thus our design enables us to separate subjects who choose information optimally from those who excessively use either social information (“herd animals”) or private information (“lone wolves”). We find sizable proportions of both behavioral types.

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