Self-Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies
This paper explains why people value self-confidence, and how this concern shapes their informational strategies and intertemporal decisions. The theory has applications in areas as diverse as labour supply, savings and investment, or education and career decisions. People generally have imperfect knowledge about their abilities, which in most tasks are complementary to effort. Self-confidence thus enhances motivation, and this gives a time--inconsistent individual a strong incentive to build up the self-esteem of his future selves, so as to limit their procrastination. The benefits of confidence-maintenance must, however, be traded off against the risks of overconfidence. Moreover, rational inference implies that the individual cannot systematically fool himself. The model explains why people often choose to remain ignorant about their true abilities, or 'blind' to important signals from their work, personal or market environment; and why they sometimes deliberately impair their own performance or choose overambitious tasks in which they are sure to fail (self-handicapping). It also provides a formal account of (endogenously) selective memory or awareness, such as the tendency to remember one's successes more than one's failures. This result, in turn, helps explain why most people have overoptimistic assessments of their own abilities and accomplishments (self-serving beliefs). Another important result is that this 'psychological immune system' can lead to multiple intrapersonal equilibria in cognitive strategies, self confidence, and behaviour. Moreover, while 'positive thinking' and similar forms of self--deception can improve ex-ante welfare, they can also be self-defeating.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.|
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
|Order Information:|| Email: |
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.:
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
Economics Working Papers
97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Martin J Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2009.
"A Course in Game Theory,"
814577000000000225, UCLA Department of Economics.
- David Laibson, 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2580. 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: ()The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct email address
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.