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When Ignorance is Bliss: Theory and Experiment on Collective Learning

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  • Boris Ginzburg
  • José-Alberto Guerra

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Boris Ginzburg & José-Alberto Guerra, 2017. "When Ignorance is Bliss: Theory and Experiment on Collective Learning," Documentos CEDE 015377, Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Economía – CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:015377
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    Cited by:

    1. Ginzburg, Boris & Guerra, José-Alberto & Lekfuangfu, Warn N., 2022. "Counting on my vote not counting: Expressive voting in committees," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    2. Ginzburg, Boris, 2022. "Collective Learning and Distributive Uncertainty," MPRA Paper 112780, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    voting; collective learning; reform adoption; information acquisition; laboratory experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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