The growing use of on-line educational content and related video services has changed the way people access education, share knowledge, and possibly make life decisions. In this paper, we characterize how video content affects individual decision-making and willingness to share in the context of a personal financial decision. Content geared toward giving better instructions leads to better financial decisions, but less information sharing. Misleading advertising not only causes worse decisions, but makes it less likely that videos with useful content get shared in the market. This implies that the effects of deception have externalities on other peoples' literacy and decision-making. Our work has important implications for policies guiding financial literacy training, and also has broader impact for education in the information age.
The authors thank Shlomo Bernartzi, Bhagwan Chowdry, Craig Fox, and Suzanne Shu for their insightful comments at the start of this project. The authors are indebted to Britt Benston at UCLA for his generosity and help in producing our videos. Any errors are the authors'. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.