Policy-makers regularly overestimate the impact of development interventions. We explore how exposure to and interpretation of research may contribute to this phenomenon. We present results from three experiments run at or in collaboration with the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank on how policy-makers, researchers, and development practitioners weigh results, seek information, and update in response to results from academic studies. We find that policy-makers care more about attributes of studies associated with external validity than internal validity, while for researchers the reverse is true. We also find evidence of asymmetric updating on good news relative to one’s prior beliefs and an insensitivity to confidence intervals. Finally, we show that information affects a real-life allocation decision.
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