Social learning strategies for matters of taste

Talk by Pantelis Pipergias Analytis, Cornell University

2017.12.12 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 23 Jan
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483, 312


Most choices people make are about “matters of taste” on which there is no universal, objective truth. Nevertheless, people can learn from the experiences of individuals with similar tastes who have already evaluated the available options—a potential harnessed by recommender systems. We mapped recommender system algorithms to models of human judgment and decision making about “matters of fact” and recast the latter as social learning strategies for “matters of taste.” Using computer simulations on a large-scale, empirical dataset, we studied how people could leverage the experiences of others to make better decisions. Our simulation showed that experienced individuals can benefit from relying mostly on the opinions of seemingly similar people; inexperienced individuals, in contrast, cannot reliably estimate similarity and are better off picking the mainstream option despite differences in taste. Crucially, the level of experience beyond which people should switch to similarity-heavy strategies varies substantially across individuals and depends on (i) how mainstream (or alternative) an individual’s tastes are and (ii) the level of dispersion in taste similarity with the other people in the group.


Pantelis Pipergias Analytis, Postdoc, Cornell University