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Students' Academic Self-Perception


  • Chevalier, Arnaud

    () (Royal Holloway, University of London)

  • Gibbons, Stephen

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Thorpe, Andy

    () (University of Portsmouth)

  • Snell, Martin

    () (University of Portsmouth)

  • Hoskins, Sherria

    () (University of Portsmouth)


Participation rates in higher education differ persistently between some groups in society. Using two British datasets we investigate whether this gap is rooted in students’ misperception of their own and other’s ability, thereby increasing the expected costs to studying. Among high school pupils, we find that pupils with a more positive view of their academic abilities are more likely to expect to continue to higher education even after controlling for observable measures of ability and students’ characteristics. University students are also poor at estimating their own test-performance and over-estimate their predicted test score. However, females, white and working class students have less inflated view of themselves. Self-perception has limited impact on the expected probability of success and expected returns amongst these university students.

Suggested Citation

  • Chevalier, Arnaud & Gibbons, Stephen & Thorpe, Andy & Snell, Martin & Hoskins, Sherria, 2007. "Students' Academic Self-Perception," IZA Discussion Papers 3031, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3031

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nick Feltovich & Richmond Harbaugh & Ted To, 2002. "Too Cool for School? Signalling and Countersignalling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 630-649, Winter.
    2. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    3. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Giorgio Brunello & Claudio Lucifora & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2004. "The Wage Expectations of European Business and Economics Students," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
    5. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa J. Sridhar, 2006. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 761-786, October.
    6. David A. Penn & Reuben Kyle, 2007. "The Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship: A Reward for Past Achievement or Motivator for Future Performance?," Working Papers 200707, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
    7. 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.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Class and confidence
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-11-24 20:44:42
    2. The Causes of Wealth Inequality (24): Self-Confidence
      by Filip Spagnoli in P.A.P.-Blog on 2012-04-01 18:01:10


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    Cited by:

    1. Pfeifer, Gregor & Witte, Stefan, 2014. "Students' Wage Expectations in Germany - New Evidence considering Tax Adjusted Estimates," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100354, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Filippin, Antonio & Paccagnella, Marco, 2012. "Family background, self-confidence and economic outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 824-834.
    3. Jason M. Lindo & Nicholas J. Sanders & Philip Oreopoulos, 2010. "Ability, Gender, and Performance Standards: Evidence from Academic Probation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 95-117, April.
    4. Sandner, Malte, 2015. "The effects of high-quality student mentoring," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 227-232.
    5. Holford, Angus, 2017. "Access to and returns from unpaid graduate internships," ISER Working Paper Series 2017-07, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    6. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2011. "Subject choice and earnings of UK graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1187-1201.
    7. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2014. "Does Higher Education Quality Matter in the UK?," IZA Discussion Papers 8363, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Chowa, Gina A.N. & Masa, Rainier D. & Ramos, Yalitza & Ansong, David, 2015. "How do student and school characteristics influence youth academic achievement in Ghana? A hierarchical linear modeling of Ghana YouthSave baseline data," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 129-140.
    9. Fouarge, Didier & Kriechel, Ben & Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Occupational sorting of school graduates: The role of economic preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 335-351.
    10. Hendrik van Broekhuizen & Dieter von Fintel, 2010. "Who Responds to Voluntary Cognitive Tests in Household Surveys? The Role of Labour Market Status, Respondent Confidence, Motivation and a Culture of Learning in South Africa," Working Papers 27/2010, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    11. Jonathan Schulz & Christian Thoeni, 2014. "Overconfidence and career choice," Discussion Papers 2014-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    12. Johansson Stenman, Olof & Nordblom, Katarina, 2010. "Are Men Really More Overconfident than Women? - A Natural Field Experiment on Exam Behavior," Working Papers in Economics 461, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    13. Kim, Youngmi & Sherraden, Michael & Clancy, Margaret, 2013. "Do mothers’ educational expectations differ by race and ethnicity, or socioeconomic status?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 82-94.
    14. Bowden, Mark P. & Doughney, James, 2012. "The importance of cultural and economic influences behind the decision to attend higher education," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 95-103.
    15. Koch, Alexander & Nafziger, Julia & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2015. "Behavioral economics of education," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 3-17.

    More about this item


    higher education participation; self-assessment; test performance; academic self-perception;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines

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