Paper # Author Title
We explore model misspecification in an observational learning framework. Individuals learn from private and public signals and the actions of others. An agent's type specifies her model of the world. Misspecified types have incorrect beliefs about the signal distribution, how other agents draw inference and/or others' payoffs. We establish that the correctly specified model is robust in that agents with approximately correct models almost surely learn the true state asymptotically. We develop a simple criterion to identify the asymptotic learning outcomes that arise when misspecification is more severe. Depending on the nature of the misspecification, learning may be correct, incorrect or beliefs may not converge. Different types may asymptotically disagree, despite observing the same sequence of information. This framework captures behavioral biases such as confirmation bias, false consensus effect, partisan bias and correlation neglect, as well as models of inference such as level-k and cognitive hierarchy. Download Paper
I consider a model in which a firm invests in both product quality and in a costly signaling technology, and the firm's reputation is the market's belief that its quality is high. The firm influences the rate at which consumers receive information about quality: the firm can either promote, which increases the arrival rate of signals when quality is high, or censor, which decreases the arrival rate of signals when quality is low. I study how the firm's incentives to build quality and signal depend on its reputation and current quality. The firm's ability to promote or censor plays a key role in the structure of equilibria. Promotion and investment in quality are complements: the firm has stronger incentives to build quality when the promotion level is high. Costly promotion can, however, reduce the firm's incentive to build quality; this effect persists even as the cost of building quality approaches zero. Censorship and investment in quality are substitutes. The ability to censor can destroy a firm's incentives to invest in quality, because it can reduce information about poor quality products. Download Paper