Hidden failures

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, Ayelet Fishbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Failure often contains useful information, yet across five studies involving 11 separate samples (N = 1238), people were reluctant to share this information with others. First, using a novel experimental paradigm, we found that participants consistently undershared failure—relative to success and a no-feedback experience—even though failure contained objectively more information than these comparison experiences. Second, this reluctance to share failure generalized to professional experiences. Teachers in the field were less likely to share information gleaned from failure than information gleaned from success, and employees were less likely to share lessons gleaned from failed versus successful attempts to concentrate at work. Why are people reluctant to share failure? Across experimental and professional failures, people did not realize that failure contained useful information. The current investigation illuminates an erroneous belief and the asymmetrical world of information it produces: one where failures are common in private, but hidden in public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Failure
  • Information
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Sharing
  • Success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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