Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
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Dessí, R., Gallo, E., & Goyal, S. (2015). Network cognition. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 123 78-96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2015.11.015
We study individual ability to memorize and recall information about friendship networks using a combination of experiments and survey-based data. In the experiment subjects are shown a network, in which their location is exogenously assigned, and they are then asked questions about the network after it disappears. We find that subjects exhibit three main cognitive biases: (i) they underestimate the mean degree compared to the actual network; (ii) they overestimate the number of rare degrees; (iii) they underestimate the number of frequent degrees. We then analyze survey data from two ‘real’ friendship networks from a Silicon Valley firm and from a University Research Center. We find, somewhat remarkably, that individuals in these real networks also exhibit these biases. The experiments yield three further findings: (iv) network cognition is affected by the subject’s location, (v) the accuracy of network cognition varies with the nature of the network, and (vi) network cognition has a significant effect on economic decisions.
Financial support from the TSE Fondation Jean-Jacques Laffont Seed Funding Programme is gratefully acknowledged. Sanjeev Goyal also acknowledges support from a Keynes Fellowship and the Cambridge-INET Institute.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2015.11.015
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253325
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/
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