Are all errors created equal? Testing the effect of error characteristics on learning from errors in three countries

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Errors can be a source of learning. However, little is known to what extent learning from errors depends on error characteristics and the context in which the error was made. We tested the assumption that more learning occurs from errors with severe consequences and when the error was made by oneself. We further investigated if and how learning from errors and organizational error culture differs between countries. In two vignette studies (Study 1, N = 118 from the United States; Study 2, N = 588 from the United States, Hungary, and Germany), participants responded to error scenarios that happened to employees at work. As expected, people learned more from errors in terms of affective error learning (Studies 1 and 2) and cognitive error learning (Study 1) if consequences were severe and if the error was made by themselves. Furthermore, we found differences between countries (Study 2) in that participants from the United States learned more from errors and reported more error management culture than participants from Hungary or Germany. Furthermore, the relationship of country and learning was mediated by error management culture. With our studies, we aim to contribute to a better exploitation of the learning potential inherent in errors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)110-124
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 02.01.2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) [grants no. KE 1377/4-1, FR 638/38-1].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.