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Information Cascades, Sex Scandals, and the ‘Weinstein Effect’

Lately, there have been a wave of horrific unveilings of sexual misconduct amongst various public figures, from popstars to politicians, which was started, at least in a major way, by the uncovering of Harvey Weinstein’s past inappropriate advances towards females that he was working with. With the first allegations from Ashley Judd and others, many more followed in rapid succession to reveal the true extent of Weinstein’s past assaults. Interestingly enough, this brave behaviour from those assaulted lead to a ‘domino effect’ in a number of other high profile personalities being accused of similar misconduct, from Kevin Spacey to Roy Moore. Of course, while this is a horrible thing to discover about some of our most favourite (and others less so) personalities, it is an interesting phenomenon, which I believe links to what we’ve been studying in class by the way of information cascades.

An information cascade is when each person, usually in a line of succession of other decisions, makes a decision that is very heavily dependent on other people’s information, whilst usually ignoring their own information. In this situation, I would replace information in the definition with something more along the lines of ‘the fear of bringing the injustices to light’, as it can be traumatic/ difficult for survivors of such events. I believe that the information cascade model can explain this phenomenon quite effectively and succinctly – because the first wave of people were able to reveal the truth about Harvey Weinstein, and others who this happened to saw the positive reaction to this (i.e. that there was actually serious backlash from the public, the media, and the film industry), and chose, despite their own apprehensions, to also come forward with the truth. This repeated many times, in different industries, with different people, and in different locations across the globe (which the article discusses the full extent of), and this, for the most part, can be explained through the theory of information cascades.



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