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The Overconfident Principles of Economics Student: An Examination of a Metacognitive Skill


  • Paul W. Grimes


Students in a large principles of macroeconomics class were asked to predict their performance on a regularly scheduled midterm examination. The author collected and analyzed data to examine the effect of various demographic characteristics, academic endowments, course preparation, and course performance variables on the accuracy of pretest expectations. A two-equation recursive model was estimated by the author to determine which factors influenced the accuracy of student expectations (predictive calibration). The results indicated that a pervasive degree of overconfidence existed within the sample. Although age and overall academic performance were found to temper overconfidence, students with credit in a previous economics course had a greater probability of reporting overconfident expectations. Overconfidence was found to be associated with lower degrees of predictive calibration. Misjudgments concerning the scope of the midterm were found to lower predictive calibration scores, ceteris paribus . These and other results indicate that unmet student performance expectations may be a root cause for the routinely observed student dissatisfaction within the traditional principles course.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul W. Grimes, 2002. "The Overconfident Principles of Economics Student: An Examination of a Metacognitive Skill," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 15-30, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:33:y:2002:i:1:p:15-30
    DOI: 10.1080/00220480209596121

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    Cited by:

    1. Darren Grant & William Green, 2013. "Grades as incentives," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 1563-1592, June.
    2. Page, Lionel, 2009. "Is there an optimistic bias on betting markets?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 70-72, February.
    3. Marcia L. Zindel & Emilio Menezes & Raul Matsushita & Sergio Da Silva, 2010. "Biological characteristics modulating investor overconfidence," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(2), pages 1496-1508.
    4. Mark Maier & Scott Simkins, 2011. "Lessons from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 36 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Guest, Jon & Riegler, Robert, 2017. "Learning by doing: Do economics students self-evaluation skills improve?," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 50-64.
    6. Castellani, Marco & Di Giovinazzo, Viviana & Novarese, Marco, 2010. "Procedural rationality and happiness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 376-383, June.
    7. Jan R. Magnus & Anatoly A. Peresetsky, 2017. "Grade Expectations: Rationality and Overconfidence," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-054/III, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Kader, Ahmad A., 2016. "Debilitating and facilitating test anxiety and student motivation and achievement in principles of microeconomics," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 40-46.
    9. Calvin Blackwell, 2010. "Rational Expectations in the Classroom: A Learning Activity," Journal for Economic Educators, Middle Tennessee State University, Business and Economic Research Center, vol. 10(2), pages 1-6, Fall.
    10. Lionel Page, 2010. "Experimental Economics method to study pupils motivation," Revue d'├ęconomie politique, Dalloz, vol. 120(5), pages 779-792.

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