Overconfidence is a Social Signaling Bias
AbstractEvidence from psychology and economics indicates that many individuals overestimate their ability, both absolutely and relatively. We test three different theories about observed relative overconfidence. The first theory notes that simple statistical comparisons (for example, whether the fraction of individuals rating own skill above the median value is larger than half) are compatible (BenoÃ®t and Dubra, 2007) with a Bayesian model of updating from a common prior and truthful statements. We show that such model imposes testable restrictions on relative ability judgments, and we test the restrictions. Data on 1,016 individuals' relative ability judgments about two cognitive tests rejects the Bayesian model. The second theory suggests that self-image concerns asymmetrically affect the choice to get new information about oneâs abilities, and this asymmetry produces overconfidence (Kőszegi, 2006; Weinberg, 2006). We test an important specific prediction of these models: individuals with a higher belief will be less likely to search for further information about their skill, because this information might make this belief worse. Our data also reject this prediction. The third theory is that overconfidence is induced by the desire to send positive signals to others about oneâs own skill; this suggests either a bias in judgment, strategic lying, or both. We provide evidence that personality traits strongly affect relative ability judgments in a pattern that is consistent with this third theory. Our results together suggest that overconfidence in statements is most likely to be induced by social concerns than by either of the other two factors.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4840.
Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-04-04 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2010-04-04 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2010-04-04 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2010-04-04 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2010-04-04 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
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