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Learning-by-Doing in an Ambiguous Environment

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  • Jim Engle-Warnick

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  • Sonia Laszlo

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Abstract

We experimentally test whether risk aversion or ambiguity aversion can explain decisions in a learning-by-doing game. We first measure subjects' preferences toward risk and ambiguity, and then use these measures to predict behavior in the game. We find that ambiguity averse subjects pay more often to resolve ambiguity, and we find that less risk averse subjects earn more in the game. Our results, in light of a previous field study of farmers in a developing economy, provide further evidence of a link between ambiguity aversion and technology choice, as well as a link between risk aversion and farm profitability. Une étude expérimentale a été menée afin de tester si l’aversion au risque ou l’aversion à l’ambiguïté peuvent expliquer les décisions prises par les sujets lors d’un jeu d’apprentissage par essais. Nous avons d’abord mesuré la préférence des sujets face au risque et à l’ambiguïté, et avons ensuite utilisé ces mesures pour prédire le comportement des sujets au cours du jeu. Nous avons pu constater que les sujets qui éprouvent de l’aversion à l’ambiguïté décident de payer plus souvent afin de clarifier cette ambiguïté. D’autre part, nous avons constaté que moins les sujets éprouvent de l’aversion au risque, plus leurs gains lors du jeu sont élevés. À la lumière d’une étude sur le terrain ayant eu lieu avec des fermiers travaillant dans une économie en développement, nos résultats confirment l'évidence d'un lien entre l'aversion à l'ambiguïté et les choix technologiques, ainsi que d'un lien entre l'aversion au risque et la rentabilité d'une ferme.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2006s-29.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2006s-29

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Keywords: learning-by-doing; technology choice; risk preferences; risk measurement instruments; ambiguity aversion; experimental economics; apprentissage par essais; choix technologiques; préférences vis-à-vis du risque; instruments de mesure du risque; aversion à l’ambiguïté; économie expérimentale;

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  1. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  2. Jim Engle-Warnick & Javier Escobal & Sonia Laszlo, 2007. "Ambiguity Aversion as a Predictor of Technology Choice: Experimental Evidence from Peru," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-01, CIRANO.
  3. John Knight & Sharada Weir & Tassew Woldehanna, 2003. "The role of education in facilitating risk-taking and innovation in agriculture," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 1-22.
  4. Abigail Barr, 2004. "Risk Pooling, Commitment, and Information: An experimental test of two fundamental assumptions," Development and Comp Systems 0409030, EconWPA.
  5. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
  6. Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Claude Montmarquette, 2004. "Saving Decisions of the Working Poor: Short-and Long-Term Horizons," CIRANO Working Papers 2004s-45, CIRANO.
  7. Jim Engle-Warnick & Nurlan Turdaliev, 2006. "An Experimental Test Of Taylor-Type Rules With Inexperienced Central Bankers," Departmental Working Papers 2005-02, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  8. Jason Abrevaya, 2002. "Computing Marginal Effects In The Box-Cox Model," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 383-393.
  9. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  10. Boyan Jovanovic & Yaw Nyarko, 1994. "Learning By Doing and the Choice of Technology," NBER Working Papers 4739, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Feder, Gershon & Just, Richard E & Zilberman, David, 1985. "Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-98, January.
  12. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. Merlo, Antonio & Schotter, Andrew, 2003. "Learning by not doing: an experimental investigation of observational learning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 116-136, January.
  14. Antle, John M & Crissman, Charles C, 1990. "Risk, Efficiency, and the Adoption of Modern Crop Varieties: Evidence from the Philippines," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(3), pages 517-37, April.
  15. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  16. John H. Kagel & Alvin E. Roth, 2000. "The Dynamics Of Reorganization In Matching Markets: A Laboratory Experiment Motivated By A Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 201-235, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Shaun Hargreaves Heap & Daniel John Zizzo, 2011. "Emotions and chat in a financial markets experiment," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 11-11, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  2. Kocher, Martin G. & Poulsen, Odile & Zizzo, Daniel J., 2012. "Social preferences, accountability, and wage bargaining," Discussion Papers in Economics 14039, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Jim Engle-Warnick & Javier Escobal & Sonia Laszlo, 2007. "Ambiguity Aversion as a Predictor of Technology Choice: Experimental Evidence from Peru," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-01, CIRANO.
  4. Juan Camilo C�rdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, 09.

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