It is generally believed that individuals imitate others to gain status, minimise regret or simply ameliorate their performance. Psychology provides a complementary explanation: imitation becomes appealing when agents have little faith in their abilities. We investigate the extent to which self-efficacy beliefs affect agents’ propensities to imitate others. We propose an experimental task, which is a modified version of the two-armed bandit. We measure participants’ self-assessed self-efficacy, then study individual learning. Subsequently, we measure how individuals use the information they gather observing a randomly selected group leader. We find that, in stable environments, a 1% increase in individual self-efficacy reduces the propensity to imitate others by 3%.
- Laboratory experiment
- Self-efficacy beliefs