Peer Advice on Financial Decisions: A Case of the Blind Leading the Blind?
42 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018 Last revised: 28 May 2023
Date Written: September 2018
We investigate the impact of peer interaction on the quality of financial decision making in a laboratory experiment. Face-to-face communication with a randomly assigned peer significantly improves the quality of subsequent private decisions even though simple mimicry would have the opposite effect. We present evidence that the mechanism involves general conceptual learning (because the benefits of communication extend to previously unseen tasks), and that the most effective learning relationships are horizontal rather than vertical (because people with weak skills benefit most when their partners also have weak skills). The benefits of demonstrably effective financial education do not propagate to peers.
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