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Economists as experts: Overconfidence in theory and practice

  • Erik Angner

Drawing on research in the psychology of judgment and decision making, I argue that individual economists acting as experts in matters of public policy are likely to be victims of significant overconfidence. The case is based on the pervasiveness of the phenomenon, the nature of the task facing economists-as-experts, and the character of the institutional constraints under which they operate. Moreover, I argue that economist overconfidence can have dramatic consequences. Finally, I explore how the negative consequences of overconfidence can be mitigated, and how the phenomenon can be reduced or eliminated. As a case study, I discuss the involvement of Western experts in post-communist Russian economic reforms.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 13 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:1:p:1-24
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  1. Arkes, Hal R. & Christensen, Caryn & Lai, Cheryl & Blumer, Catherine, 1987. "Two methods of reducing overconfidence," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 133-144, February.
  2. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  3. Keren, Gideon, 1987. "Facing uncertainty in the game of bridge: A calibration study," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 98-114, February.
  4. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  5. Brenner, Lyle A. & Koehler, Derek J. & Liberman, Varda & Tversky, Amos, 1996. "Overconfidence in Probability and Frequency Judgments: A Critical Examination," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 212-219, March.
  6. Yates, J. Frank & McDaniel, Linda S. & Brown, Eric S., 1991. "Probabilistic forecasts of stock prices and earnings: The hazards of nascent expertise," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 60-79, June.
  7. Daylian M. Cain & George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2005. "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, 01.
  8. Dawes, Robyn M. & Mulford, Matthew, 1996. "The False Consensus Effect and Overconfidence: Flaws in Judgment or Flaws in How We Study Judgment?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 201-211, March.
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