Academic Papers

Of Songs and Men: a Model for Multiple Choice with Herding

We propose a generic model for multiple choice situations in the presence of herding and compare it with recent empirical results from a Web-based music market experiment. The model predicts a phase transition between a weak imitation phase and a strong imitation, ‘fashion’ phase, where choices are driven by peer pressure and the ranking of individual preferences is strongly distorted at the aggregate level. The model can be calibrated to reproduce the main experimental results of Salganik et al. (Science, 311, pp. 854-856 (2006)); we show in particular that the value of the social influence parameter can be estimated from the data. In one of the experimental situation, this value is found to be close to the critical value of the model.