LIRa Session: Patricia Rich

Speaker: Patricia Rich

Date and Time: Thursday, April 22nd 2021, 16:30-18:00, Amsterdam time.

Venue: online.

Title: Hidden Costs of Epistemic Conformity: Lessons from Information Cascade Simulations.

Abstract. Information cascades are troubling and well-studied because apparently individually-rational responses to evidence can lead entire communities to conform (participate in cascades), and hence to converge on the wrong answer. Yet existing theory cannot explain why a robust, substantial minority of people in experimental studies do not conform. Groups achieve improved reliability thanks to these non-conformists. I use simulations to study cascade problems in an evolutionary setting. The results show that although conforming maximizes expected fitness, non-conformists can persist and often flourish in the population. The reason is that by its nature, conformity carries an evolutionary cost.

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