An Experiment on the Relative Effects of Ability, Temperament and Luck on Search with Uncertainty

39 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2000

See all articles by W. Bentley MacLeod

W. Bentley MacLeod

Columbia University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Mark Pingle

University of Nevada, Reno - College of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2000

Abstract

The problem of decision making in the face of uncertainty is a ubiquitous problem in day to day economic decision making. Psychologists have found that a number of factors can influence the quality of such decision making, including ability, temperament and of course sheer luck. We report the results obtained from an experimental framework that begins an evaluation of the relative importance of these factors in a simple search problem where the complexity of search is the major treatment variable. We find that variations in complexity and "luck" explain most of the variation in performance. However, individual heterogeneity also explains a significant portion. Individual differences matter most when the problem is of moderate complexity. A small portion of the heterogeneity is attributable to ability, but a more significant portion is attributable to variations in what we might label temperament. Finally, we find that framing the incentive as a bonus, rather than a penalty, encourages search but does not significantly affect performance.

Suggested Citation

MacLeod, William Bentley and Pingle, Mark, An Experiment on the Relative Effects of Ability, Temperament and Luck on Search with Uncertainty (July 2000). USC Law School, Olin Research Paper No. 00-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=240507 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.240507

William Bentley MacLeod (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Mark Pingle

University of Nevada, Reno - College of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557
United States
(775) 784-6634 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
151
Abstract Views
1,939
rank
204,218
PlumX Metrics