IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

An Unlucky Feeling: Persistent Overestimation of Absolute Performance with Noisy Feedback

  • Grossman, Zachary
  • Owens, David

How does overconfidence arise and persist in the face of experience and feedback? We examine experimentally how individuals' beliefs about their absolute, as opposed to relative, performance on a quiz react to noisy, but unbiased, feedback. Participants believe themselves to have received `unlucky' feedback and they overestimate their own scores, but they exhibit no overconfidence in non-ego-relevant beliefs---in this case, about others' scores. Unlike previous studies of relative performance estimates, we find this to be driven by overconfident priors, as opposed to biased updating, which suggests that social comparisons contribute to biased information processing. While feedback improves performance estimates, this learning does not translate into improved estimates of subsequent performances. This suggests that people use performance feedback to update their beliefs about their ability differently than they do to update their beliefs about their performance, contributing to the persistence of overconfidence.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:;origin=repeccitec
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt0dh5s03j.

in new window

Date of creation: 11 Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0dh5s03j
Contact details of provider: Postal: 2127 North Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9210
Phone: (805) 893-3670
Fax: (805) 893-8830
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ertac, Seda, 2011. "Does self-relevance affect information processing? Experimental evidence on the response to performance and non-performance feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 532-545.
  2. Markus M. Mobius & Muriel Niederle & Paul Niehaus & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2011. "Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 17014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Jeremy Clark & Lana Friesen, 2006. "Overconfidence in Forecasts of Own Performance: An Experimental Study," Working Papers in Economics 06/09, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  5. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2004. "Who Makes Acquisitions? CEO Overconfidence and the Market's Reaction," NBER Working Papers 10813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sobel, Joel., 1985. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Working Papers 565, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  7. Juan Dubra & Jean-Pierre Benoit, 2011. "Apparent Overconfidence," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1106, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
  8. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2009. "The Role of Context and Team Play in Cross-Game Learning," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1101-1139, 09.
  9. David Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2003. "Lessons Learned: Generalizing Learning Across Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 202-207, May.
  10. Erik Hoelzl & Aldo Rustichini, 2005. "Overconfident: Do You Put Your Money On It?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 305-318, 04.
  11. Kagel, John H., 1995. "Cross-game learning: Experimental evidence from first-price and English common value auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 163-170, August.
  12. David Cooper & John Kagel, 2008. "Learning and transfer in signaling games," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 415-439, March.
  13. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2010. "Overconfidence is a Social Signaling Bias," IZA Discussion Papers 4840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0dh5s03j. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.