Beliefs in decision-making cascades
Raman, Ravi Kiran
Rhim, Joong Bum
Goyal, Vivek K.
Varshney, Lav R.
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Citation (published version)Daewon Seo, Ravi Kiran Raman, Joong Bum Rhim, Vivek K Goyal, Lav R Varshney. 2019. "Beliefs in Decision-Making Cascades." IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, Volume 67, Issue 19, pp. 5103 - 5117. https://doi.org/10.1109/tsp.2019.2935865
This work explores a social learning problem with agents having nonidentical noise variances and mismatched beliefs. We consider an N-agent binary hypothesis test in which each agent sequentially makes a decision based not only on a private observation, but also on preceding agents' decisions. In addition, the agents have their own beliefs instead of the true prior, and have nonidentical noise variances in the private signal. We focus on the Bayes risk of the last agent, where preceding agents are selfish. We first derive the optimal decision rule by recursive belief update and conclude, counterintuitively, that beliefs deviating from the true prior could be optimal in this setting. The effect of nonidentical noise levels in the two-agent case is also considered and analytical properties of the optimal belief curves are given. Next, we consider a predecessor selection problem wherein the subsequent agent of a certain belief chooses a predecessor from a set of candidates with varying beliefs. We characterize the decision region for choosing such a predecessor and argue that a subsequent agent with beliefs varying from the true prior often ends up selecting a suboptimal predecessor, indicating the need for a social planner. Lastly, we discuss an augmented intelligence design problem that uses a model of human behavior from cumulative prospect theory and investigate its near-optimality and suboptimality.