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When good = better than average

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  • Don A. Moore

Abstract

People report themselves to be above average on simple tasks and below average on difficult tasks. This paper proposes an explanation for this effect that is simpler than prior explanations. The new explanation is that people conflate relative with absolute evaluation, especially on subjective measures. The paper then presents a series of four studies that test this conflation explanation. These tests distinguish conflation from other explanations, such as differential weighting and selecting the wrong referent. The results suggest that conflation occurs at the response stage during which people attempt to disambiguate subjective response scales in order to choose an answer. This is because conflation has little effect on objective measures, which would be equally affected if the conflation occurred at encoding.

Suggested Citation

  • Don A. Moore, 2007. "When good = better than average," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 277-291, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:2:y:2007:i::p:277-291
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2005. "CEO Overconfidence and Corporate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2661-2700, December.
    3. Klein, William M.P., 2002. "Comparative risk estimates relative to the average peer predict behavioral intentions and concern about absolute risk," Risk, Decision and Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 193-202, June.
    4. Baron, Jonathan, 1997. "Confusion of Relative and Absolute Risk in Valuation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 301-309, May-June.
    5. Klar, Yechiel & Medding, Aviva & Sarel, Dan, 1996. "Nonunique Invulnerability: Singular versus Distributional Probabilities and Unrealistic Optimism in Comparative Risk Judgments," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 229-245, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ryvkin, Dmitry & KrajĨ, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2012. "Are the unskilled doomed to remain unaware?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1012-1031.
    2. Radzevick, Joseph R. & Moore, Don A., 2013. "Just how comparative are comparative judgments?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 80-91.
    3. Roy, Michael M. & Liersch, Michael J. & Broomell, Stephen, 2013. "People believe that they are prototypically good or bad," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 200-213.
    4. Moore, Don A. & Klein, William M.P., 2008. "Use of absolute and comparative performance feedback in absolute and comparative judgments and decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 60-74, September.
    5. Jason P. Rose & Paul D. Windschitl & Andrew R. Smith, 2012. "Debiasing egocentrism and optimism biases in repeated competitions," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 761-767, November.

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