Confidence in Knowledge or Confidence in the Ability to Learn: an Experiment on the Causal Effects of Beliefs on Motivation

43 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2018

See all articles by Mira Fischer

Mira Fischer

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management

Dirk Sliwka

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Previous research has shown that feedback about past performance has ambiguous effects on subsequent performance. We argue that feedback affects beliefs in different dimensions – namely beliefs about the level of human capital and beliefs about the ability to learn – and this may explain some of the ambiguous effects. We experimentally study the causal effects of an exogenously administered change in beliefs in both of these dimensions on the motivation to learn. We find that confidence in the ability to learn raises incentives, while confidence in the level of human capital lowers incentives for individuals with high levels of human capital.

Keywords: economic experiments, confidence, human capital investment, motivation

JEL Classification: C91, D83, I21, J24

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Mira and Sliwka, Dirk, Confidence in Knowledge or Confidence in the Ability to Learn: an Experiment on the Causal Effects of Beliefs on Motivation. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11327. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3129271

Mira Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management ( email )

Koln, 50923
Germany

Dirk Sliwka

University of Cologne - Department of Business Administration and Human Resource Management ( email )

Koln, 50923
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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