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Economists as experts: Overconfidence in theory and practice

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  • Erik Angner

Abstract

Drawing on research in the psychology of judgment and decision making, I argue that individual economists acting as experts in matters of public policy are likely to be victims of significant overconfidence. The case is based on the pervasiveness of the phenomenon, the nature of the task facing economists-as-experts, and the character of the institutional constraints under which they operate. Moreover, I argue that economist overconfidence can have dramatic consequences. Finally, I explore how the negative consequences of overconfidence can be mitigated, and how the phenomenon can be reduced or eliminated. As a case study, I discuss the involvement of Western experts in post-communist Russian economic reforms.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 13 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:1:p:1-24

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Related research

Keywords: overconfidence; calibration; economists; experts; public policy; Russian reforms;

References

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  1. Dawes, Robyn M. & Mulford, Matthew, 1996. "The False Consensus Effect and Overconfidence: Flaws in Judgment or Flaws in How We Study Judgment?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 201-211, March.
  2. Brenner, Lyle A. & Koehler, Derek J. & Liberman, Varda & Tversky, Amos, 1996. "Overconfidence in Probability and Frequency Judgments: A Critical Examination," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 212-219, March.
  3. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  4. Keren, Gideon, 1987. "Facing uncertainty in the game of bridge: A calibration study," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 98-114, February.
  5. Arkes, Hal R. & Christensen, Caryn & Lai, Cheryl & Blumer, Catherine, 1987. "Two methods of reducing overconfidence," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 133-144, February.
  6. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  7. Yates, J. Frank & McDaniel, Linda S. & Brown, Eric S., 1991. "Probabilistic forecasts of stock prices and earnings: The hazards of nascent expertise," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 60-79, June.
  8. Daylian M. Cain & George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2005. "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, 01.
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Cited by:
  1. van der Cruijsen, Carin A.B. & Eijffinger, Sylvester C.W., 2010. "From actual to perceived transparency: The case of the European Central Bank," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 388-399, June.
  2. Klaus Mohn, 2010. "Autism in Economics? A Second Opinion," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 191-208, July.
  3. Alessandro Innocenti & Tommaso Nannicini & Roberto Ricciuti, 2012. "The Importance of Betting Early," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 037, University of Siena.
  4. Claussen, Carl Andreas & Matsen, Egil & Røisland, Øistein & Torvik, Ragnar, 2012. "Overconfidence, monetary policy committees and chairman dominance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 699-711.
  5. George DeMartino, 2013. "Professional Economic Ethics: Why Heterodox Economists Should Care," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 2(1), pages 4, April.

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