Economic Theory

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 677–699 | Cite as

An experimental test of observational learning under imperfect information

  • Boğaçhan Çelen
  • Shachar Kariv
Research Article


Nearly all observational learning models assume that individuals can observe all the decisions that have previously been made. In reality, such perfect information is rarely available. To explore the difference between observational learning under perfect and imperfect information, this paper takes an experimental look at a situation in which individuals learn by observing the behavior of their immediate predecessors. Our experimental design uses the procedures of Çelen and Kariv [9] and is based on the theory of Çelen and Kariv [10]. We find that imitation is much less frequent when subjects have imperfect information, even less frequent than the theory predicts. Further, while we find strong evidence that under perfect information a form of generalized Bayesian behavior adequately explains behavior in the laboratory, under imperfect information behavior is not consistent even with this generalization of Bayesian behavior.

Keywords and Phrases:

Asymmetric information Herd behavior Informational cascades Imperfect information Experimental economics. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia Business SchoolNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUC BerkeleyEvans Hall, BerkeleyUSA

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