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Self-Confidence, Overconfidence and Prenatal Testosterone Exposure: Evidence from the Lab

Listed author(s):
  • Dalton, Patricio S.
  • Ghosal, Sayantan

This paper examines whether the degree of confidence and overconfidence in one's ability is determined biologically. In articular, we study whether foetal testosterone exposure correlates with an incentive-compatible measure of confidence within an experimental setting. We find that men (rather than women) who were exposed to high testosterone levels in their mother's womb are less likely to overestimate their actual performance, which in turn helps them to gain higher monetary rewards. Men exposed to low prenatal testosterone levels, instead, set unrealistically high expectations which results in self-defeating behaviour. These results from the lab are able to reconcile hitherto disconnected evidence from the field, by providing a link between traders'overconfidence bias, long-term financial returns and prenatal testosterone exposure.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10943/564
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Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2014-020.

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Date of creation: 09 Feb 2014
Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:564
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  1. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  2. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Enrique Turiegano, 2009. "Testosterone, Facial Symmetry and Cooperation in the Prisoners' Dilemma," ESE Discussion Papers 192, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  3. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 457-470.
  4. Mark Grinblatt & Matti Keloharju, 2009. "Sensation Seeking, Overconfidence, and Trading Activity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(2), pages 549-578, 04.
  5. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "The visible hand: finger ratio (2D:4D) and competitive bidding," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(3), pages 510-529, September.
  6. Tanga McDaniel & E. Rutström, 2001. "Decision Making Costs and Problem Solving Performance," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 4(2), pages 145-161, October.
  7. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  8. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292.
  9. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  10. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
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