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Overconfidence in Political Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Pietro Ortoleva
  • Erik Snowberg

Abstract

This paper studies, theoretically and empirically, the role of overconfidence in political behavior. Our model of overconfidence in beliefs predicts that overconfidence leads to ideological extremeness, increased voter turnout, and stronger partisan identification. The model also makes nuanced predictions about the patterns of ideology in society. These predictions are tested using unique data that measure the overconfidence and standard political characteristics of a nationwide sample of over 3,000 adults. Our numerous predictions find strong support in these data. In particular, we document that overconfidence is a substantively and statistically important predictor of ideological extremeness, voter turnout, and partisan identification. (JEL C83, D03, D72, D83)

Suggested Citation

  • Pietro Ortoleva & Erik Snowberg, 2015. "Overconfidence in Political Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 504-535, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:2:p:504-35
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20130921
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2007. "Partisan Impacts on the Economy: Evidence from Prediction Markets and Close Elections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 807-829.
    2. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2011. "A Structural Model Of Turnout And Voting In Multiple Elections," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-245, April.
    3. David E. Bell, 1982. "Regret in Decision Making under Uncertainty," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 30(5), pages 961-981, October.
    4. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
    5. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Meredith, Marc & Snowberg, Erik, 2013. "Asking About Numbers: Why and How," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 48-69, January.
    6. Snowberg, Erik & Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2007. "Party Influence in Congress and the Economy," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 277-286, August.
    7. Benjamin Enke & Florian Zimmermann, 2019. "Correlation Neglect in Belief Formation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(1), pages 313-332.
    8. Sugden Robert, 1993. "An Axiomatic Foundation for Regret Theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 159-180, June.
    9. Henderson, Daniel J. & List, John A. & Millimet, Daniel L. & Parmeter, Christopher F. & Price, Michael K., 2008. "Imposing Monotonicity Nonparametrically in First-Price Auctions," MPRA Paper 8769, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Benjamin Enke & Florian Zimmermann, 2019. "Correlation Neglect in Belief Formation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(1), pages 313-332.
    11. Pietro Ortoleva & Erik Snowberg, 2015. "Overconfidence in Political Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 504-535, February.
    12. Arianna Degan, 2013. "Civic duty and political advertising," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(2), pages 531-564, March.
    13. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    14. Luís Santos-Pinto & Joel Sobel, 2005. "A Model of Positive Self-Image in Subjective Assessments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1386-1402, December.
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    16. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, March.
    17. Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Horacio Larreguy & Juan Pablo Xandri, 2015. "Testing Models of Social Learning on Networks: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field," NBER Working Papers 21468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    19. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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