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Psychological Cascades and Information Cascades?

http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/Health/story?id=1495038

In this article, some examples of people following the crowd are provided, and some psychological explanations are provided. We can also make use of the knowledge of information cascade that was mentioned in class to explain some aspects of the examples.

First, the Failing the Test Experiment was mentioned. In this experiment, people are asked one by one to solve a puzzle and to announce his/her answer loudly so everyone after him/her can hear. With everyone else being told to follow the first person’s answer, we have one person who does not know that other people are told to do so and we observe what he does. It turns out that he follows the answer no matter it is correct or not. From an aspect of information cascade, we might think that this last person follows the crowds because of some information-based reasons. For example, when he gets a different but correct answer other than the common answer, he might think that if all the people before him gets the same answer, it has to be the correct answer, since he is not smarter than any of them. Thus, there must be something that he did not notice but other people know about the problem. Maybe they know some theory that he does not. In this way, we can also understand why he would follow other people’s choice.

In the second example, people observe what other people do at dinner table and follow them. We can also see it as a accept/reject problem faced by people at the restaurant. When some people started accepting some bad behaviors, some other might think those behaviors are acceptable too. Then more and more people will tend to accept since other people are accepting. In this case, they may think that other people know some other knowledge than them. For example, they might know some new trend that requires people to lick their fingers. Thus, this example can also be partially explained by some information-based reasons that we learned in class.

Thus, we can see that even though these experiments are done by psychologists, we can still link them to information cascades.

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