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Overconfidence by Bayesian Rational Agents

  • Eric Van den Steen

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Strategy Unit)

This paper derives two mechanisms through which Bayesian-rational individuals with differing priors will tend to be relatively overconfident about their estimates and predictions, in the sense of overestimating the precision of these estimates. The intuition behind one mechanism is slightly ironic: in trying to update optimally, Bayesian agents overweight information of which they over-estimate the precision and underweight in the opposite case. This causes overall an over-estimation of the precision of the final estimate, which tends to increase as agents get more data.

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File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-049.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 11-049.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:11-049
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  1. Arnoud W.A. Boot & Radhakrishnan Gopaian & Anjan V. Thakor, 2006. "Market Liquidity, Investor Participation and Managerial Autonomy: Why do Firms go Private?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-011/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Michael D. Grubb, 2009. "Selling to Overconfident Consumers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1770-1807, December.
  3. Harrison Hong & Jeremy C. Stein, 2007. "Disagreement and the Stock Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
  4. Shimon Kogan, 2009. "Distinguishing the Effect of Overconfidence from Rational Best-Response on Information Aggregation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(5), pages 1889-1914, May.
  5. Morris, Stephen, 1994. "Trade with Heterogeneous Prior Beliefs and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1327-47, November.
  6. Faruk Gul, 1998. "A Comment on Aumann's Bayesian View," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 923-928, July.
  7. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
  8. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," NBER Working Papers 10707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Thomas S. Wallsten & David V. Budescu & Rami Zwick, 1993. "Comparing the Calibration and Coherence of Numerical and Verbal Probability Judgments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(2), pages 176-190, February.
  10. Matthew Rabin & Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82.
  11. John Geanakoplos, 2009. "The Leverage Cycle," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1715, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  12. Kent D. Daniel, 2001. "Overconfidence, Arbitrage, and Equilibrium Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(3), pages 921-965, 06.
  13. K. J. Arrow, 1964. "The Role of Securities in the Optimal Allocation of Risk-bearing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(2), pages 91-96.
  14. Aumann, Robert & Brandenburger, Adam, 1995. "Epistemic Conditions for Nash Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1161-80, September.
  15. J. Michael Harrison & David M. Kreps, 1978. "Speculative Investor Behavior in a Stock Market with Heterogeneous Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(2), pages 323-336.
  16. Kent Daniel & David Hirshleifer & Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, 1998. "Investor Psychology and Security Market Under- and Overreactions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1839-1885, December.
  17. Daron Acemoglu & Victor Chernozhukov & Muhamet Yildiz, 2007. "Learning and Disagreement in an Uncertain World," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 48, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  18. Morris, Stephen, 1995. "The Common Prior Assumption in Economic Theory," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 227-253, October.
  19. Jose A. Scheinkman & Wei Xiong, 2003. "Overconfidence and Speculative Bubbles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1183-1219, December.
  20. Robert J. Aumann, 1998. "Common Priors: A Reply to Gul," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 929-938, July.
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