If an individual believes that she has little, if any, ability to impact on her wellbeing, then she would have inadequate incentives to become informed about or explore pathways into better wellbeing. Moreover, she would have little motivation to allocate resources (including cognitive ones) to modify her beliefs and perceptions. As a consequence, the set of beliefs about her inability to bring about positive change would be perpetuated. This paper uses recently collected data in rural Ethiopia to examine whether we can uncover basic correlations predicted by the aspiration failure framework. Based on evidence that it is so, we then outline empirical challenges to further test these models.
iiG Workshop, Oxford University, 21 March 2008. 28 pp.