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American Economic Review: Vol. 96 No. 3 (June 2006)

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Superstition and Rational Learning

Article Citation

Fudenberg, Drew, and David K. Levine. 2006. "Superstition and Rational Learning." American Economic Review, 96(3): 630-651.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.3.630

Abstract

We argue that some, but not all, superstitions can persist when learning is rational and players are patient, and illustrate our argument with an example inspired by the Code of Hammurabi. The code specified an "appeal by surviving in the river" as a way of deciding whether an accusation was true. According to our theory, a mechanism that uses superstitions two or more steps off the equilibrium path, such as "appeal by surviving in the river," is more likely to persist than a superstition where the false beliefs are only one step off the equilibrium path. (JEL C72, C73, D83, D84)

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Authors

Fudenberg, Drew
Levine, David K.


American Economic Review


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