hero working papers

The Weight of Personal Experience: an Experimental Measurement

Number: 452
Year: 2012
Author(s): Joshua Miller and Zacharias Maniadis
We present an experiment to address the question of whether a piece of information is more influential if it comes from experience, rather than from another source. We employ a novel experimental design which controls for the value of information and other potentially important confounding factors present in related studies. Overall, our results show that an event that is personally experienced has a stronger influence on subsequent behavior than an observed event with equally valuable information content. Importantly, in early rounds when information is more valuable from a rational viewpoint, this overweighting of personal experience is not statistically significant.

Keywords: Experiments; Learning; Observation; Reinforcement Learning; Belief-Based Learning
JEL codes: C90; C91