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Misperceiving the value of information in predicting the performance of others


Loewenstein, George; Moore, Don A; Weber, Roberto A (2009). Misperceiving the value of information in predicting the performance of others. Experimental Economics, 9(3):281-295.

Abstract

Economic models typically allow for “free disposal” or “reversibility” of information, which implies non-negative value. Building on previous research on the “curse of knowledge” we explore situations where this might not be so. In three experiments, we document situations in which participants place positive value on information in attempting to predict the performance of uninformed others, even when acquiring that information diminishes their earnings. In the first experiment, a majority of participants choose to hire informed—rather than uninformed—agents, leading to lower earnings. In the second experiment, a significant number of participants pay for information—the solution to a puzzle—that hurts their ability to predict how many others will solve the puzzle. In the third experiment, we find that the effect is reduced with experience and feedback on the actual performance to be predicted. We discuss implications of our results for the role of information and informed decision making in economic situations.

Abstract

Economic models typically allow for “free disposal” or “reversibility” of information, which implies non-negative value. Building on previous research on the “curse of knowledge” we explore situations where this might not be so. In three experiments, we document situations in which participants place positive value on information in attempting to predict the performance of uninformed others, even when acquiring that information diminishes their earnings. In the first experiment, a majority of participants choose to hire informed—rather than uninformed—agents, leading to lower earnings. In the second experiment, a significant number of participants pay for information—the solution to a puzzle—that hurts their ability to predict how many others will solve the puzzle. In the third experiment, we find that the effect is reduced with experience and feedback on the actual performance to be predicted. We discuss implications of our results for the role of information and informed decision making in economic situations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:September 2009
Deposited On:26 Jan 2012 15:46
Last Modified:18 Feb 2018 00:56
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1386-4157
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-006-9128-y
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:3916

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