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Faculty of Economics

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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  Roberta Dessi  Edoardo Gallo  

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

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