Microeconomics & International Trade Seminars

Spring 2017

Thursday 1:403:00 p.m.
499 Engineering II

May 11
Matt Jackson, Stanford University
"Gossip: Identifying Central Individuals in a Social Network"
Host: Ajay Shenoy
ABSTRACT: Is it possible to identify individuals who are highly central in a community without gathering any network information, simply by asking a few people?   If we use people's nominees as seeds for a diffusion process, will it be successful? We explore these questions theoretically, via surveys, and via field experiments. We show via a model of information flow how members of a community can, just by tracking gossip about others, identify highly central individuals in their network. Asking villagers in rural Indian villages to name good seeds for diffusion, we find that they accurately nominate those who are central according to a measure tailored for diffusion -- not just  those with many friends or in powerful positions. Finally, we run a randomized field experiment in 213 other villages that tests how effective it is to use such nominations as seeds for a diffusion process. Relative to random seeds or those with high social status, hitting at least one seed nominated by villagers leads to more than a 65% increase in the spread of information.

May 30
Melanie Morten, Stanford University
Host: Jon Robinson

June 8
Elana Asparouhova, University of Utah
Host: Dan Friedman