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Follow the leader? A field experiment on social influence

Kate Ambler (), Susan Godlonton and Maria Recalde ()

No 2019-24, Department of Economics Working Papers from Department of Economics, Williams College

Abstract: We conduct an artefactual field experiment with farmers in endogenously formed groups in rural Malawi to investigate social influence in risk taking. Our experiment minimizes influence through social learning and social image channels. Treatments vary whether individuals observe the behavior of a formally elected leader, an external leader, or a random peer. Results show that peers are most influential, followed by formal leaders, and then external leaders. Exploratory analysis suggests that farmers 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; agriculture; Malawi (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C9 D8 O13 Q12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 94 pages
Date: 2019-11-22
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-exp, nep-soc and nep-ure
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