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What is the Causal Effect of Knowledge on Preferences?

Author

Listed:
  • Jacob LaRiviere

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

  • Mikolaj Czajkowski

    () (University of Warsaw, Department of Economic Sciences, Poland)

  • Nick Hanley

    () (Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)

  • Katherine Simpson

    () (Economics Division, University of Stirling, Scotland)

Abstract

We use a novel field experiment which jointly tests two implicit assumptions of updating models in a joint framework: that new information leads to new knowledge and that new knowledge can affect economic decisions. In the experiment, we elicit subjects’ prior knowledge state about a good’s attributes, exogenously vary how much new information about good attributes we provide to subjects, elicit subjects’ valuation for the good, and elicit posterior knowledge states about the same good attributes. Testing for changes in knowledge jointly with changes in preferences allows us to horserace updating models more completely than previous studies since we observe ex ante and ex post knowledge states. Our results are consistent with a model of incomplete learning, fatigue and either confirmation bias or costly search coupled with unbiased priors.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob LaRiviere & Mikolaj Czajkowski & Nick Hanley & Katherine Simpson, 2015. "What is the Causal Effect of Knowledge on Preferences?," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2015-09, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2015-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joshua Schwartzstein, 2014. "Selective Attention And Learning," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(6), pages 1423-1452, December.
    2. Christian A. Vossler & Maurice Doyon & Daniel Rondeau, 2012. "Truth in Consequentiality: Theory and Field Evidence on Discrete Choice Experiments," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 145-171, November.
    3. Richard T. Carson & Theodore Groves & John A. List, 2014. "Consequentiality: A Theoretical and Experimental Exploration of a Single Binary Choice," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 171-207.
    4. Christie, Mike & Gibbons, James, 2011. "The effect of individual ‘ability to choose’ (scale heterogeneity) on the valuation of environmental goods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2250-2257.
    5. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2015. "Revealed Preference, Rational Inattention, and Costly Information Acquisition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2183-2203, July.
    6. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean & Daniel Martin, 2011. "Search and Satisficing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2899-2922, December.
    7. MacMillan, Douglas & Hanley, Nick & Lienhoop, Nele, 2006. "Contingent valuation: Environmental polling or preference engine?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 299-307, November.
    8. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    9. LaRiviere, Jacob & Czajkowski, Mikołaj & Hanley, Nick & Aanesen, Margrethe & Falk-Petersen, Jannike & Tinch, Dugald, 2014. "The value of familiarity: Effects of knowledge and objective signals on willingness to pay for a public good," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 376-389.
    10. David Aadland & Arthur Caplan & Owen Phillips, 2007. "A Bayesian examination of information and uncertainty in contingent valuation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 149-178, October.
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    14. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
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    16. Hoehn, John P. & Lupi, Frank & Kaplowitz, Michael D., 2010. "Stated Choice Experiments with Complex Ecosystem Changes: The Effect of Information Formats on Estimated Variances and Choice Parameters," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-23, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Hanley & Mikolaj Czajkowski, 2017. "Stated Preference Valuation Methods: An Evolving Tool for Understanding Choices and Informing Policy," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2017-01, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    2. repec:bla:jageco:v:68:y:2017:i:3:p:781-800 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Learning; Information; Bayesian Updating; Behavioral Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects

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