The traits and characteristics that make people effective at learning from experience are particularly important when they attempt to draw lessons from failure. Results of a number of experiments I have conducted with my colleagues indicate that individuals learn more from failure when they attribute the failure more internally, and learn less effectively when they are less certain of their responsibility for the failed outcome.
In another study, we extend this work by exploring how individuals can also learn from extreme successes. Just as failure represents deviation from success, so too does extreme success - it is an unexpected outcome, but in a positive direction. Using a field experiment with emergency department care providers, we explore when and how doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners learn from these different kinds of experience.