Network cognition

Roberta Dessí, Edoardo Gallo, Sanjeev Goyal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study individual ability to memorize and recall information about friendship networks using a combination of experiments and survey-based data. In the experiment subjects are shown a network, in which their location is exogenously assigned, and they are then asked questions about the network after it disappears. We find that subjects exhibit three main cognitive biases: (i) they underestimate the mean degree compared to the actual network; (ii) they overestimate the number of rare degrees; (iii) they underestimate the number of frequent degrees. We then analyze survey data from two 'real' friendship networks from a Silicon Valley firm and from a University Research Center. We find, somewhat remarkably, that individuals in these real networks also exhibit these biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-96
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Biases
  • Cognition
  • Degree distributions
  • Networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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