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

Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 290

28 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006

See all articles by Charles Efferson

Charles Efferson

University of California, Davis

Rafael Lalive

University of Lausanne - Department of Economics (DEEP); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Peter Richerson

University of California, Davis

Richard McElreath

University of California, Davis

Mark Lubell

University of California, Davis

Date Written: May 2006

Abstract

We conducted an experiment to describe how social learners use information about the relation between payoffs and behavior. Players chose between two technologies repeatedly. Payoffs were random, but one technology was better because its expected payoff was higher. Players were divided into two groups: 1) individual learners who knew their realized payoffs after each choice and 2) social learners, who had no private feedback about their own payoffs, but in each period could choose to learn which behavior had produced the lowest payoff 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 very closely. 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 rapid temporal heterogeneity in the use of social information has received little or no attention in the theoretical study of social learning.

Keywords: social learning, payoff information, gene-culture coevolution, laboratory experiment

JEL Classification: C92, O31, Z13

Suggested Citation

Efferson, Charles and Lalive, Rafael and Richerson, Peter and McElreath, Richard and Lubell, Mark, Models and Anti-Models: The Structure of Payoff-Dependent Social Learning (May 2006). Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 290. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=905250 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.905250

Charles Efferson (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Rafael Lalive

University of Lausanne - Department of Economics (DEEP) ( email )

BFSH1
Lausanne, 1015
Switzerland

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Peter Richerson

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Richard McElreath

University of California, Davis

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Mark Lubell

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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