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An Unlucky Feeling: Overconfidence and Noisy Feedback

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  • Grossman, Zachary
  • Owens, David

Abstract

How does overconfidence arise and how does it persist in the face of experience and feedback? In an experimental setting, we examine how individuals’ beliefs about their own performance on a quiz react to noisy, but unbiased feedback. In a control treatment, each participant expresses her beliefs about another participant’s performance, rather than her own. On average, they express accurate posteriors about others’ scores, but they overestimate their own score, believing themselves to have received ‘unlucky’ feedback. However, this driven by overconfident priors, as opposed to biased information processing. We also find that, while feedback improves estimates about the performance on which it is based, this learning does not translate into improved estimates of related 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, which may contribute to the persistence of overconfidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2010. "An Unlucky Feeling: Overconfidence and Noisy Feedback," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt13r2f3gt, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt13r2f3gt
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Markus M. Mobius & Muriel Niederle & Paul Niehaus & Tanya Rosenblat, 2011. "Managing self-confidence: theory and experimental evidence," Working Papers 11-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Camille Cornand & Frank Heinemann, 2014. "Measuring agents’ reaction to private and public information in games with strategic complementarities," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, pages 61-77.
    3. Mikołaj Czajkowski & Nick Hanley & Karine Nyborg, 2014. "Social norms, morals and self-interest as determinants of pro-environment behaviour," Working Papers 2014-17, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    4. Christoph Bühren & Stefan Krabel, 2015. "Individual Performance after Success and Failure - A Natural Experiment," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201505, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    5. Jeffrey V. Butler, 2016. "Inequality and Relative Ability Beliefs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(593), pages 907-948, June.
    6. David Owens Jr. & Zachary Grossman Jr. & Ryan Fackler Jr., 2014. "The Control Premium: A Preference for Payoff Autonomy," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 138-161, November.
    7. Gary Charness & Aldo Rustichini & Jeroen van de Ven, 2013. "Self-Confidence and Strategic Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 4517, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2017. "Biased beliefs and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 186-202.
    9. Parkhurst, Gregory M. & Nowell, Clifford, 2014. "The Role of Confidence in Truthful Revelation of Private Values," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 43(2), August.
    10. LaRiviere, Jacob & Czajkowski, Mikołaj & Hanley, Nick & Aanesen, Margrethe & Falk-Petersen, Jannike & Tinch, Dugald, 2014. "The value of familiarity: Effects of knowledge and objective signals on willingness to pay for a public good," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 376-389.
    11. Alexander Coutts, 2017. "Good news and bad news are still news: Experimental evidence on belief updating," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp1703, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.
    12. Khmelnitskaya, A. & van der Laan, G. & Talman, Dolf, 2016. "Generalization of Binomial Coefficients to Numbers on the Nodes of Graphs," Discussion Paper 2016-007, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. Schwardmann, Peter & van der Weele, Joel, 2017. "Deception and Self-Deception," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 25, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    14. Noémi Berlin & Marie-Pierre Dargnies, 2012. "Linking Beliefs to Willingness to Compete," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00755660, HAL.
    15. Nick Hanley & Mikolaj Czajkowski, 2016. "What is the Causal Impact of Knowledge on Preferences in Stated Preference Studies?," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2016-09, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    16. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2015. "How Do College Students Respond to Public Information about Earnings?," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, pages 117-169.
    17. Jacob LaRiviere & Mikolaj Czajkowski & Nick Hanley & Katherine Simpson, 2015. "What is the Causal Effect of Knowledge on Preferences?," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2015-09, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    18. LaRiviere, Jacob & Czajkowski, Mikolaj & Hanley, Nick & Aanesen, Margrethe & Falk-Peterson, Jannike & Tinch, Dugald, 2014. "Effects of Experience, Knowledge and Signals on Willingness to Pay for a Public Good," SIRE Discussion Papers 2014-008, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    19. Czajkowski, Mikolaj & Hanley, Nicholas & LaRiviere, Jacob & Simpson, Katherine, 2014. "What is the Causal Effect of Information and Learning about a Public Good on Willingness to Pay?," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2014-05, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    20. Thomas Buser & Leonie Gerhards & Joël J. van der Weele, 2016. "Measuring Responsiveness to Feedback as a Personal Trait," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-043/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    21. Gary Charness & Aldo Rustichini & Jeroen van de Ven, 2011. "Self-Confidence and Strategic Deterrence," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-151/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    22. Alexander Coutts, 2017. "Good news and bad news are still news: Experimental evidence on belief updating," FEUNL Working Paper Series novaf:wp1703, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    23. Coutts, Alexander, 2015. "Testing Models of Belief Bias: An Experiment," MPRA Paper 67507, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Belief updating among college students: evidence from experimental variation in information," Staff Reports 516, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    overconfidence; overestimation; learning; Bayes rule; biased updating; learning transfer; experiments; quadratic scoring rule; Social and Behavioral Sciences;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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