NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Tuan Phan

National University of Singapore
15 Computing Drive
Computing 2, #04-08
Singapore 117418

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2015Treasure Hunt: Social Learning in the Field
with Markus Mobius, Adam Szeidl: w21014
We seed noisy information to members of a real-world social network to study how information diffusion and information aggregation jointly shape social learning. Our environment features substantial social learning. We show that learning occurs via diffusion which is highly imperfect: signals travel only up to two steps in the conversation network and indirect signals are transmitted noisily. We then compare two theories of information aggregation: a naive model in which people double-count signals that reach them through multiple paths, and a sophisticated model in which people avoid double-counting by tagging the source of information. We show that to distinguish between these models of aggregation, it is critical to explicitly account for imperfect diffusion. When we do so, we find that...
 
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