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Banker Compensation and Confirmation Bias

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  • Sabourian, Hamid
  • Sibert, Anne

Abstract

Confirmation bias refers to cognitive errors that bias one towards one's own prior beliefs. A vast empirical literature documents its existence and psychologists identify it as one of the most problematic aspects of human reasoning. In this paper, we present three related scenarios where rational behaviour leads to outcomes that are observationally equivalent to different types of conformation bias. As an application, the model provides an explanation for how the reward structure in the financial services industry led to the seemingly irrational behaviour of bankers and other employees of financial institutions prior to the financial crisis of that erupted in the summer of 2007.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7263.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7263

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Keywords: belief persistence; confirmation bias; financial crisis; overconfidence; signalling;

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  1. Trueman, Brett, 1994. "Analyst Forecasts and Herding Behavior," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(1), pages 97-124.
  2. Kent Daniel & David Hirshleifer & Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, 1998. "Investor Psychology and Security Market Under- and Overreactions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1839-1885, December.
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  7. David Hirshleifer & Siew Hong Teoh, 2003. "Herd Behaviour and Cascading in Capital Markets: a Review and Synthesis," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 9(1), pages 25-66.
  8. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 1996. "Impetuous Youngsters and Jaded Old-Timers: Acquiring a Reputation for Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1105-34, December.
  9. Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
  10. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  11. Avery, Christopher N. & Chevalier, Judith A., 1999. "Herding over the career," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 327-333, June.
  12. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
  13. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-65, November.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Bankers compensation
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-10-25 09:04:00
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Cited by:
  1. Anne Sibert, 2010. "Sexism and the City: Irrational Behaviour, Cognitive Errors and Gender in the Financial Crisis," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 163-166, February.

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