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ODU Prof Featured on 'The Academic Minute' Podcast

Michael Seiler, professor and Robert M. Stanton Endowed Chair of Real Estate and Economic Development at Old Dominion University, was recently featured on "The Academic Minute," an online podcast distributed nationally by the website Inside Higher Ed.

Seiler, founder and director of the Institute of Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate in ODU's College of Business and Public Administration, discusses how the human tendency to copy the behavior of those around us has contributed to the ongoing mortgage crisis.

"The theory of mimetics can be described as a biological predisposition to learn, through the emulation of observed behavior," Seiler said. "This type of social learning through imitation is one of the earliest forms of learning and never leaves us, even as adults."

Seiler and his research collaborator Andy Collins, research assistant professor at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, have investigated a number of factors affecting the spread of so-called strategic defaults (when a homeowner who can pay his mortgage chooses not to).

In studying the theory of mimetics, the researchers found that learned behavior can be a significant contributor to the spread of strategic default.

"This is an important first step in the investigation of the spread of a contagion over a social network, and how it might be stopped. We find that homeowners are easily persuaded to follow the herd, and adopt a strategic default proclivity consistent with that of their peers."

Seiler's podcast on Inside Higher Ed can be heard here: http://www.insidehighered.com/audio/2011/10/26/strategic-default-and-mimetic-herding.

Produced by Albany's WAMC radio, "The Academic Minute" features professors from top institutions around the country delving into topics from the serious to the light-hearted, keeping listeners abreast of what's new and exciting in the academy with topics ranging from updates on groundbreaking scientific research to an explanation of how the board game Monopoly can help explain the economic recession.

"The Academic Minute" features a different professor every day, drawing experts from institutions within WAMC's listening area and across the country. Each segment is introduced by Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College. Pasquerella is also a professor of philosophy at Mount Holyoke, specializing in medical and legal ethics.

Old Dominion faculty members who would like to contribute to "The Academic Minute" should contact Brendan O'Hallarn in ODU's Office of University Relations at 683-6681 or bohallar@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: November 1, 2011

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