Eliciting and Aggregating Forecasts When Information is Shared

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Date

2016

Authors

Palley, Asa

Advisors

Soll, Jack B
Nau, Robert F

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Abstract

Using the wisdom of crowds---combining many individual forecasts to obtain an aggregate estimate---can be an effective technique for improving forecast accuracy. When individual forecasts are drawn from independent and identical information sources, a simple average provides the optimal crowd forecast. However, correlated forecast errors greatly limit the ability of the wisdom of crowds to recover the truth. In practice, this dependence often emerges because information is shared: forecasters may to a large extent draw on the same data when formulating their responses.

To address this problem, I propose an elicitation procedure in which each respondent is asked to provide both their own best forecast and a guess of the average forecast that will be given by all other respondents. I study optimal responses in a stylized information setting and develop an aggregation method, called pivoting, which separates individual forecasts into shared and private information and then recombines these results in the optimal manner. I develop a tailored pivoting procedure for each of three information models, and introduce a simple and robust variant that outperforms the simple average across a variety of settings.

In three experiments, I investigate the method and the accuracy of the crowd forecasts. In the first study, I vary the shared and private information in a controlled environment, while the latter two studies examine forecasts in real-world contexts. Overall, the data suggest that a simple minimal pivoting procedure provides an effective aggregation technique that can significantly outperform the crowd average.

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Citation

Palley, Asa (2016). Eliciting and Aggregating Forecasts When Information is Shared. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12247.

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