When choices are made from ordered lists, individuals can exhibit biases toward selecting certain options as a result of the ordering. We examine this phenomenon in the context of consumer response to the ordering of economics papers in an e-mail announcement issued by the NBER. We show that despite the effectively random list placement, papers listed first each week are about 30% more likely to be viewed, downloaded, and subsequently cited. We suggest that a model of “skimming” behavior, where individuals focus on the first few papers in the list due to time constraints, would be most consistent with our findings.
Feenberg, D., Ganguli, I., Gaule, P., & Gruber, J. (2017). It's Good to be First: Order Bias in Reading and Citing NBER Working Papers. Review of Economics and Statistics, 99(1), 32-39. https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00607