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Incentives and timing in relative performance judgments: A field experiment


  • Krawczyk, Michał


Several studies have identified the “better than average” effect – the tendency of most people to think they are better than most other people on most dimensions. The effect would have profound consequences, such as over-trading in financial markets. The findings are predominantly based on non-incentivized, non-verifiable self-reports. The current study looks at the impact of incentives to judge one’s abilities accurately in a framed field experiment. Nearly 550 students were asked to predict whether they would do better or worse than average in an exam. The most important findings are that subjects tend to show more confidence when incentivized and when asked before the exam (especially long before the exam) rather than afterwards. The first effect shows up particularly in females.

Suggested Citation

  • Krawczyk, Michał, 2012. "Incentives and timing in relative performance judgments: A field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1240-1246.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:6:p:1240-1246 DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2012.09.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yates, J. Frank & Lee, Ju-Whei & Bush, Julie G G., 1997. "General Knowledge Overconfidence: Cross-National Variations, Response Style, and "Reality"," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 87-94, May.
    2. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Volume, Volatility, Price, and Profit When All Traders Are Above Average," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1887-1934, December.
    3. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2005. "CEO Overconfidence and Corporate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2661-2700, December.
    4. Jeremy Clark & Lana Friesen, 2009. "Overconfidence in Forecasts of Own Performance: An Experimental Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 229-251, January.
    5. van Dijk, Wilco W. & Zeelenberg, Marcel & van der Pligt, Joop, 2003. "Blessed are those who expect nothing: Lowering expectations as a way of avoiding disappointment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 505-516, August.
    6. Krawczyk, Michal, 2010. "A glimpse through the veil of ignorance: Equality of opportunity and support for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 131-141, February.
    7. Yoram Kroll & Liema Davidovitz, 2003. "Inequality Aversion versus Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 19-29, February.
    8. Larrick, Richard P. & Burson, Katherine A. & Soll, Jack B., 2007. "Social comparison and confidence: When thinking you're better than average predicts overconfidence (and when it does not)," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 76-94, January.
    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, April.
    10. Young Park & Luís Santos-Pinto, 2010. "Overconfidence in tournaments: evidence from the field," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 143-166, July.
    11. Grieco, Daniela & Hogarth, Robin M., 2009. "Overconfidence in absolute and relative performance: The regression hypothesis and Bayesian updating," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 756-771, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michał Krawczyk & Maciej Wilamowski, 2015. "Are we all overconfident in the long run? Evidence from one million marathon participants," Working Papers 2015-01, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item


    Better-than-average effect; Overconfidence; Underconfidence; Incentives; Gender differences;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations


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