When Ignorance Is Bliss: Theory and Experiment on Collective Learning

56 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017

See all articles by Boris Ginzburg

Boris Ginzburg

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

José-Alberto Guerra

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 23, 2017

Abstract

When do groups and societies choose to be uninformed? We study a committee that needs to vote on a reform which will give every member a private state- dependent payoff. The committee can vote to learn the state at no cost. We show that the committee decides not to learn the state when preferences are more fractionalized on the state-relevant dimension than on the state-irrelevant dimension. Hence, decisions on divisive issues are likely to be made in haste, and heterogeneous societies tend to seek less information. A simple laboratory experiment confirms key results.

Keywords: voting, collective learning, reform adoption, information acquisition, laboratory experiment

JEL Classification: C72, C92, D71, D72, D83

Suggested Citation

Ginzburg, Boris and Guerra, José Alberto, When Ignorance Is Bliss: Theory and Experiment on Collective Learning (February 23, 2017). Documento CEDE No. 2017-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2922493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2922493

Boris Ginzburg (Contact Author)

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid ( email )

CL. de Madrid 126
Madrid, Madrid 28903
Spain

José Alberto Guerra

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://jguerraforero.wixsite.com/joseaguerra

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