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Follow the leader? A field experiment on social influence

Kate Ambler, Susan Godlonton and María P. Recalde

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 188, issue C, 1280-1297

Abstract: We conduct an artefactual field experiment in endogenously formed groups in rural Malawi to investigate social influence in risk taking. Treatments vary whether individuals observe the behavior of a formally elected leader, an external leader, or a random peer. Results show social influence in risk taking with differential influence by leader type. The decisions made by peers are most influential, followed by those made by formal leaders, and then external leaders. Exploratory analysis suggests that participants follow peers because they extract information from their choices and share risks with them; while other forms of social utility are gained from following the example of leaders.

Keywords: Peer effects; Risk taking; Lab-in-the-field; Malawi (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C9 D8 H0 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:188:y:2021:i:c:p:1280-1297

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.05.022

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