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The Importance of Being an Optimist: Evidence from Labor Markets

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  • Ron Kaniel
  • Cade Massey
  • David T. Robinson

Abstract

Dispositional optimism is a personality trait associated with individuals who believe, either rightly or wrongly, that in general good things tend to happen to them more often than bad things. Using a novel longitudinal data set that tracks the job search performance of MBA students, we show that dispositional optimists experience significantly better job search outcomes than pessimists with similar skills. During the job search process, they spend less effort searching and are offered jobs more quickly. They are choosier and are more likely to be promoted than others. Although we find optimists are more charismatic and are perceived by others to be more likely to succeed, these factors alone do not explain away the findings. Most of the effect of optimism on economic outcomes stems from the part that is not readily observed by one's peers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16328.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16328

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References

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  1. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kuhnen, Camelia M., 2010. "Searching for Jobs: Evidence from MBA Graduates," MPRA Paper 21975, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Manju Puri & David Robinson, 2005. "Optimism and Economic Choice," NBER Working Papers 11361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Managing With Style: The Effect Of Managers On Firm Policies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1169-1208, November.
  5. John R. Graham & Si Li & Jiaping Qiu, 2011. "Managerial Attributes and Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 17368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate & Jonathan Yan, 2010. "Overconfidence and Early-life Experiences: The Impact of Managerial Traits on Corporate Financial Policies," NBER Working Papers 15659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Augustin Landier & David Thesmar, 2009. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 117-150, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Urbig, Diemo & Monsen, Erik, 2012. "The structure of optimism: “Controllability affects the extent to which efficacy beliefs shape outcome expectancies”," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 854-867.
  2. Kuhnen, Camelia M. & Oyer, Paul, 2012. "Exploration for human capital: Theory and evidence from the MBA labor market," MPRA Paper 39411, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Puri, Manju, 2013. "Managerial attitudes and corporate actions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 103-121.
  4. Kuhnen, Camelia M., 2010. "Searching for Jobs: Evidence from MBA Graduates," MPRA Paper 21975, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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