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Are the Unskilled Really That Unaware? Understanding Seemingly Biased Self-Assessments

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  • Marian Krajc

Abstract

The so-called unskilled-and-unaware problem was experimentally identified a decade ago: The unskilled are seemingly afflicted by a double curse because they also seem unaware of their (relative) lack of skills. Numerous authors have elaborated on this problem – experimentally as well as theoretically. In this paper, we report on the results of three experiments (one field, two laboratory) through which we test a theoretical model and some informal extensions. Specifically, we examine the impact of general information and specific information (feedback) on the quality of self-assessment (“calibration”) in various tasks and under various conditions. Overconfidence behavior initially prevails in almost all settings. We find a strong positive effect of general information on calibration, and show that calibration improves more when feedback is provided. In our experiments, it is the unskilled who improve their calibration the most.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague in its series CERGE-EI Working Papers with number wp373.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp373

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Related research

Keywords: Calibration; judgement errors; unskilled; unaware; metacognition; experiment;

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References

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  1. Rydval, Ondrej & Ortmann, Andreas, 2004. "How financial incentives and cognitive abilities affect task performance in laboratory settings: an illustration," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 315-320, December.
  2. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2000. "Volunteers and Pseudo-Volunteers: The Effect of Recruitment Method in Dictator Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 107-120, October.
  3. repec:kap:expeco:v:5:y:2002:i:2:p:91-110 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2000. "The False Consensus Effect Disappears if Representative Information and Monetary Incentives Are Given," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 241-260, December.
  5. Cesarini, David & Sandewall, Orjan & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Confidence interval estimation tasks and the economics of overconfidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 453-470, November.
  6. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  7. Krajc, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2008. "Are the unskilled really that unaware? An alternative explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 724-738, November.
  8. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  9. Erik Hoelzl & Aldo Rustichini, 2005. "Overconfident: Do You Put Your Money On It?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 305-318, 04.
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