IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp4840.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Overconfidence is a Social Signaling Bias

Author

Listed:
  • Burks, Stephen V.

    () (University of Minnesota, Morris)

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    () (Middlebury College)

  • Götte, Lorenz

    () (University of Bonn)

  • Rustichini, Aldo

    () (University of Minnesota)

Abstract

Evidence from psychology and economics indicates that many individuals overestimate their ability, both absolutely and relatively. We test three different theories about observed relative overconfidence. The first theory notes that simple statistical comparisons (for example, whether the fraction of individuals rating own skill above the median value is larger than half) are compatible (Benoît and Dubra, 2007) with a Bayesian model of updating from a common prior and truthful statements. We show that such model imposes testable restrictions on relative ability judgments, and we test the restrictions. Data on 1,016 individuals' relative ability judgments about two cognitive tests rejects the Bayesian model. The second theory suggests that self-image concerns asymmetrically affect the choice to get new information about one’s abilities, and this asymmetry produces overconfidence (Kőszegi, 2006; Weinberg, 2006). We test an important specific prediction of these models: individuals with a higher belief will be less likely to search for further information about their skill, because this information might make this belief worse. Our data also reject this prediction. The third theory is that overconfidence is induced by the desire to send positive signals to others about one’s own skill; this suggests either a bias in judgment, strategic lying, or both. We provide evidence that personality traits strongly affect relative ability judgments in a pattern that is consistent with this third theory. Our results together suggest that overconfidence in statements is most likely to be induced by social concerns than by either of the other two factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2010. "Overconfidence is a Social Signaling Bias," IZA Discussion Papers 4840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4840
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4840.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    2. John T. Addison & Clive R. Belfield, 2008. "The Determinants of Performance Appraisal Systems: A Note (Do Brown and Heywood's Results for Australia Hold Up for Britain?)," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 521-531, September.
    3. Robert Drago & John S. Heywood, 1994. "The Choice of Payment Schemes: Australian Establishment Data," Labor and Demography 9402001, EconWPA, revised 04 Feb 1994.
    4. Erica L. Groshen & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "The Structure of Supervision and Pay in Hospitals," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 134-1-146-, April.
    5. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    6. Richard Belfield & Salima Benhamou & David Marsden, 2007. "Incentive Pay Systems and the Management of Human Resources in France and Great Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0796, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. Bronars, Stephen G & Famulari, Melissa, 1997. "Wage, Tenure, and Wage Growth Variation within and across Establishment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 285-317, April.
    8. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2008. "Who pays for performance?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 8-29, March.
    9. John S. Heywood & W. S. Siebert & Xiangdong Wei, 1997. "Payment by Results Systems: British Evidence," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 35(1), pages 1-22, March.
    10. Uwe Jirjahn & Gesine Stephan, 2004. "Gender, piece rates and wages: evidence from matched employer--employee data," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(5), pages 683-704, September.
    11. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
    12. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", pages 129-137.
    13. Foss, Nicolai J. & Laursen, Keld, 2005. "Performance pay, delegation and multitasking under uncertainty and innovativeness: An empirical investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 246-276, October.
    14. Erica L. Groshen, 1988. "Why do wages vary among employers?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q I, pages 19-38.
    15. Randall S. Schuler & Susan E. Jackson, 2005. "A Quarter-Century Review of Human Resource Management in the U.S.: The Growth in Importance of the International Perspective," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 16(1), pages 11-35.
    16. Michelle Brown & John S. Heywood, 2005. "Performance Appraisal Systems: Determinants and Change," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(4), pages 659-679, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Overconfidence Looks Good
      by Robin Hanson in Overcoming Bias on 2010-04-07 03:35:34

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Louis Rullière & Luis Santos Pinto & Isabelle Vialle, 2011. "Self-Confidence and Teamwork : An Experimental Test," Post-Print halshs-00632091, HAL.
    2. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    3. Ludwig, Sandra & Fellner-Röhling, Gerlinde & Thoma, Carmen, 2017. "Do women have more shame than men? An experiment on self-assessment and the shame of overestimating oneself," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 31-46.
    4. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González & Stephen Rassenti, 2011. "Real Effort, Real Leisure and Real-time Supervision: Incentives and Peer Pressure in Virtual Organizations," Working Papers 11-05, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Agnieszka Tymula, 2012. "Feedback, Self-Esteem, and Performance in Organizations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(1), pages 94-113, January.
    6. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    7. Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2012. "Self-Centered Beliefs : An Empirical Approach," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 978, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Ewers, Mara, 2012. "Information and Competition Entry," IZA Discussion Papers 6411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2011. "False Consensus in Economic Agents," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 968, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    10. Jean-Pierre Benoît & Juan Dubra & Don A. Moore, 2015. "Does The Better-Than-Average Effect Show That People Are Overconfident?: Two Experiments," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 293-329, April.
    11. Cueva, Carlos & Dessi, Roberta, 2012. "Charitable Giving, Self-Image and Personality," IDEI Working Papers 748, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    12. Jean‐Pierre Benoît & Juan Dubra, 2011. "Apparent Overconfidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1591-1625, September.
    13. 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.
    14. Engelmann, Dirk & Strobel, Martin, 2012. "Deconstruction and reconstruction of an anomaly," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 678-689.
    15. Ewers, Mara & Zimmermann, Florian, 2012. "Image and Misreporting," IZA Discussion Papers 6425, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    numeracy; overconfidence; Bayesian updating; self-image; social signaling; field experiment; IQ; personality; MPQ;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4840. 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: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.