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Models and Anti-Models: The Structure of Payoff-Dependent Social Learning


Efferson, Charles; Lalive, Rafael; Richerson, Peter J; McElreath, Richard; Lubell, Mark (2006). Models and Anti-Models: The Structure of Payoff-Dependent Social Learning. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 290, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We conducted an experiment to describe how social learners use information about the relation between payoffs and behavior. Players chose between twontechnologies repeatedly. Payoffs were random, but one technology was better because its expected payoff was higher. Players were divided into two groups:n1) individual learners who knew their realized payoffs after each choice andn2) social learners, who had no private feedback about their own payoffs, but in each period could choose to learn which behavior had produced the lowestnpayoff among the individual learners or which behavior had produced the highest payoff. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the highest payoff, a model of imitating this successful behavior matches the data verynclosely. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the lowest payoff, they tended to choose the opposite behavior in early periods, while increasingly choosing the same behavior in late periods. This kind of rapidntemporal heterogeneity in the use of social information has received little or no attention in the theoretical study of social learning.

Abstract

We conducted an experiment to describe how social learners use information about the relation between payoffs and behavior. Players chose between twontechnologies repeatedly. Payoffs were random, but one technology was better because its expected payoff was higher. Players were divided into two groups:n1) individual learners who knew their realized payoffs after each choice andn2) social learners, who had no private feedback about their own payoffs, but in each period could choose to learn which behavior had produced the lowestnpayoff among the individual learners or which behavior had produced the highest payoff. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the highest payoff, a model of imitating this successful behavior matches the data verynclosely. When social learners chose to know the behavior producing the lowest payoff, they tended to choose the opposite behavior in early periods, while increasingly choosing the same behavior in late periods. This kind of rapidntemporal heterogeneity in the use of social information has received little or no attention in the theoretical study of social learning.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:May 2006
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:47
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 10:13
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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