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Choice via Social Influence

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • December 3, 2018
  • Abhinash Borah,
  • Abhinash Borah, Christopher Kops

We introduce a theory of socially influenced individual choices. The source of social influence on an individual are his reference groups in society, formed of societal members he psychologically or contextually relates to. Choices made within an individual’s reference groups have an influence on the choices he makes. Specifically, we propose a choice procedure under which, in any choice problem, he considers only those alternatives that he can identify with at least one of his reference groups. From this “consideration set,” he chooses the best alternative according to his preferences. The procedure is an interactive one and captures the steady state of a process of mutual social influence. We behaviorally characterize this choice procedure. We also highlight the empirical content of the procedure by relating it to both experimental evidence and real world applications.

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