NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming

Rema Hanna, Sendhil Mullainathan, Joshua Schwartzstein

NBER Working Paper No. 18401
Issued in September 2012
NBER Program(s):   DEV   LS   PR

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.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18401

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Duflo, Kremer, and Robinson w15131 Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya
Karlan, McConnell, Mullainathan, and Zinman w16205 Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving
Banerjee, Chandrasekhar, Duflo, and Jackson w17743 The Diffusion of Microfinance
Bordalo, Gennaioli, and Shleifer w17947 Salience and Consumer Choice
Alatas, Banerjee, Chandrasekhar, Hanna, and Olken w18351 Network Structure and the Aggregation of Information: Theory and Evidence from Indonesia
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us