Essays On Social Norms
I study equilibrium behavior in games for which players have some preference for appearing to be well-informed. In chapter one, I study the effect of such preferences in a dynamic game where players have preferences for appearing to be well-informed about the actions of past players. I find that such games display cyclical behavior, which I interpret as a model of `fads'. I show that the speed of the fads is driven by the information available to less well-informed players. In chapter two, I study the effect of such preferences in a static game of voting with many players. Prior work studies voting games in which player's preferences are determined only by some disutility of voting, as well as some concern for swaying the outcome of the election to one's favored candidate. This literature finds that, in equilibrium, a vanishingly small percentage of the population votes, since the chance of swaying the election disappears as more players vote, while the cost of voting remains high for all. I introduce uncertainty about the quality of the candidates, as well as a preference for appearing to be well-informed about the candidates. I find that high levels of voter turnout are supported in equilibrium even when the number of players in the game is large. This resolves the empirical puzzle of why the chance of swaying the election should matter, given that it is very small.