skip to content

Faculty of Economics

Journal Cover

Dessi, R., Gallo, E. and Goyal, S.

Network Cognition

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

Vol. 123 pp. 78-96 (2016)

Abstract: We study individual ability to memorize and recall information about friendship networks using a combination of experiments and survey-based data. In the experiment subjects are shown a network, in which their location is exogenously assigned, and they are then asked questions about the network after it disappears. We find that subjects exhibit three main cognitive biases: (i) they underestimate the mean degree compared to the actual network; (ii) they overestimate the number of rare degrees; (iii) they underestimate the number of frequent degrees. We then analyze survey data from two ‘real’ friendship networks from a Silicon Valley firm and from a University Research Center. We find, somewhat remarkably, that individuals in these real networks also exhibit these biases.

Keywords: Networks; Cognition; Degree distributions; Biases

Author links: Sanjeev Goyal  Edoardo Gallo  

Publisher's Link:

Open Data link:

Cambridge Working Paper in Economics Version of Paper: Network Cognition, Dessi, R., Gallo, E. and Goyal, S., (2014)

Papers and Publications

Recent Publications

Carvalho, V. M. and Grassi, B. Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle American Economic Review [2019]

Carvalho, V. M., Nirei, M., Saito, Y. U. and Tahbaz-Salehi, A. Supply Chain Disruptions: Evidence from the Great East Japan Earthquake Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming [2021]

Biroli, P., Boneva, T., Raja, A. and Rauh, C. Parental Beliefs About Returns to Child Health Investments Journal of Econometrics [2020]

Elliott, M., Georg, C-P. and Hazell, J. Systemic Risk Shifting in Financial Networks Journal of Economic Theory [2021]