#behavioral Feed

Continuing to make slow progress on understanding how to add information and behavior diffusion to economics: Leonardo Bursztyn, Florian Ederer, Bruno Ferman, Noam Yuchtman: Understanding Mechanisms Underlying Peer Effects: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Financial Decisions: "When someone purchases an asset, his peers may also want to purchase it, both because they learn from his choice ('social learning') and because his possession of the asset directly affects others' utility of owning the same asset ('social utility'). We randomize whether one member of a peer pair who chose to purchase an asset has that choice implemented... Then we randomize whether the second member of the pair: (1) receives no information... or (2) is informed of the first member's desire to purchase the asset and the result of the randomization.... This allows us to estimate the effects of learning plus possession, and learning alone.... Both social learning and social utility channels have statistically and economically significant effects.... Investors report updating their beliefs about asset quality after learning about their peer's revealed preference... report motivations consistent with 'keeping up with the Joneses' when learning about their peer's possession of the asset. These results can help shed light on the mechanisms underlying herding behavior...

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An argument that all of behavioral economics is just a set of footnotes to Pierre Laplace: Joshua B. Miller and Andrew Gelman: Laplace’s Theories of Cognitive Illusions, Heuristics, and Biases: "Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilities anticipated many ideas developed within the past 50 years in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, explaining human tendencies to deviate from norms of rationality in the presence of probability and uncertainty.... Laplace’s theories and reasoning... how modern they seem, how much progress he made without the benefit of systematic experimentation, and the novelty of a few of his unexplored conjectures. We argue that this work points to these theories being more fundamental and less contingent on recent experimental findings than we might have thought...

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Ray [REDACTED]: Gather Round, Kids, While I Tell You About What I Call.. "The Greatest S---show in Crypto": "Many of you will be surprised to learn that there is a thriving industry of paid advice on buying and selling cryptos assets, including newsletters, telegram groups, and subscriber-only emails. Until very recently, one of the most popular paid services was something called Standpoint research, seen here on CNBC with Mr. Wonderful from SharkTank. In February of 2018, Standpoint Research recommended that its subscribers buy an unknown asset known as $DIG, because the owner of Standpoint thought there was insider trading going on. You read that right. He suspected fraud, so he issued a 'buy' recommendation. The coin then subsequently grew from a fraction of a penny to 16 cents per token, as buyers rushed in to acquire this asset. For the craziest reasons you can imagine. The coin itself claims to be backed by $15 billion (not a typo) in Gold Bullion. Their website, if you are curious, is http://arbitrade.io ...

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Richard Thaler: The Power of Nudges, for Good and Bad: "All nudging should be transparent and never misleading.... It should be as easy as possible to opt out.... There should be good reason to believe that the behavior being encouraged will improve the welfare of those being nudged.... Government teams in Britain and the United States that have focused on nudging have followed these guidelines scrupulously. But the private sector is another matter. In this domain, I see much more troubling behavior...

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Blum Hall B100: Plaza Level: 2 PM: Bill Janeway: The Digital Revolution and the State: The Great Reversal

http://delong.typepad.com/the-digital-revolution-and-the-state--book-talk.pdf

Bill Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy 2.0 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1108471277: "The innovation economy begins with discovery and culminates in speculation. Over some 250 years, economic growth has been driven by successive processes of trial and error: upstream exercises in research and invention and downstream experiments in exploiting the new economic space opened by innovation...

...Drawing on his professional experiences, William H. Janeway provides an accessible pathway for readers to appreciate the dynamics of the innovation economy. He combines personal reflections from a career spanning forty years in venture capital, with the development of an original theory of the role of asset bubbles in financing technological innovation and of the role of the state in playing an enabling role in the innovation process. Today, with the state frozen as an economic actor and access to the public equity markets only open to a minority, the innovation economy is stalled; learning the lessons from this book will contribute to its renewal...

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The first write-up of the Prisoner's (or is it Prisoners'?) Dilemma: Merrill Flood (1958): Some Experimental Games: "Summary: Two players non-cooperatively choose rows and columns of their payoff matrices in a series of 100 plays of a non-constant sum game. The purpose of this experimental game is to determine which of several theories best describes their behavior. The players, being familiar with zero-sum game theory, happen to choose a poor solution for their non-constant-sum game...

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Prisoner's Dilemma, or Prisoners' Dilemma?: Hoisted from the Archives

Game Theory

Hoisted from the Archives: Prisoner's Dilemma: An extended passage from William Poundstone's (1992) marvelous book Prisoner's Dilemma (New York: Doubleday: 038541580X) https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0307763781. Economists will find it hilarious and thought-provoking. Others will probably find it bizarre and weird. It comes from pp.106-118.

Flood and Dresher devised a simple game where [the Nash equilibrium wasn't such a good outcome for the players].... The researchers wondered if real people playing the game--especially, people who had never heard of Nash or equilibrium points--would be drawn mysteriously to the equilibrium strategy. Flood and Dresher doubted it.

The two researchers ran an experiment that very afternoon. They recruited two friends as guinea pigs, Armen Alchian of UCLA ("AA" below), and RAND's John D. Williams ("JW"). The game was presented purely as a payoff table. The payoffs were:

(AA's payoff, JW's payoff) JW's Strategy 1 [Defect] JW's Strategy 2 [Cooperate]
AA's Strategy 1 [Cooperate] (-1, 2) (1/2, 1)
AA's Strategy 2 [Defect] (0, 1/2) (1, -1)

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