Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming

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Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming

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Title: Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming
Author: Hanna, Rema N.; Mullainatha, Sendhil; Schwartzstein, Joshua

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Hanna, Rema, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Joshua Schwartzstein. 2012. Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming. HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series and CID Working Papers (RWP12-044 and 245), HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series.
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Abstract: Existing learning models attribute failures to learn to a lack of data. We model a different barrier. Given the large number of dimensions one could focus on when using a technology, people may fail to learn because they failed to notice important features of the data they possess. We conduct a field experiment with seaweed farmers to test a model of “learning through noticing”. We find evidence of a failure to notice: On some dimensions, farmers do not even know the value of their own input. Interestingly, trials show that these dimensions are the ones that farmers fail to optimize. Furthermore, consistent with the model, we find that simply having access to the experimental data does not induce learning. Instead, farmers change behavior only when presented with summaries that highlight the overlooked dimensions. We also draw out the implications of learning through noticing for technology adoption, agricultural extension, and the meaning of human capital.
Published Version: http://web.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8586
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9804491
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