Sorry for the sensational headline there. But it is strangely true at least according to a study posted on the website of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Contrary to common belief, people learn less from failure than from success.
The researchers conducted five experiments in which each of the 1,600-plus participants answered a series of binary-choice questions. In one experiment, researchers asked telemarketers how much money U.S. companies lose annually due to poor customer service. The choices were either "approximately $90 billion" or "approximately $60 billion." Because there were only two possible answers, once participants received feedback on their answer, they should have known the correct answer, whether they guessed correctly or not.
Participants were retested on the content of the initial questions to see whether they had learned from the feedback. Consistently, participants learned less from failure than from success, even when the task was redesigned to make learning from failure less cognitively taxing, and even when learning was incentivized. Those who received failure feedback also remembered fewer of their answer choices.
said Ayelet Fishbach, a renowned expert on motivation and decision making.
In another experiment, the researchers removed ego from failure by having participants observe someone else's successes and failures. Although people learned less from personal failure than from personal success, they learned just as much from others' failures as from others' successes. In other words, when failure is removed from the self, people tune in and learn from failure.
The results have implications for how to optimize learning, the researchers said.
So do you agree with their findings? Have you taken the time to think about when you've learned more: from your failures or from your successes?