Title

Informational Herding and Optimal Experimentation

Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date

1-1-2006

CFDP Number

1552

CFDP Pages

39

Abstract

We show that far from capturing a formally new phenomenon, informational herding is really a special case of single-person experimentation — and ‘bad herds’ the typical failure of complete learning. We then analyze the analogous team equilibrium, where individuals maximize the present discounted welfare of posterity. To do so, we generalize Gittins indices to our non-bandit learning problem, and thereby characterize when contrarian behaviour arises: (i) While herds are still constrained efficient, they arise for a strictly smaller belief set. (ii) A log-concave log-likelihood ratio density robustly ensures that individuals should lean more against their myopic preference for an action the more popular it becomes.

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