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Image and Misreporting

  • Ewers, Mara

    ()

    (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln (IW))

  • Zimmermann, Florian

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

In this paper we ask if reports of private information about skills, abilities or achievements are affected by image concerns. We develop a simple model that illustrates how image utility can lead to misreporting of private information in contexts where truthful reports maximize monetary outcomes. In addition, we test the model's predictions in a controlled lab experiment. In the experiment, all subjects go through a series of quiz questions and subsequently report a performance measure. We vary if reports are made to an audience or not and find evidence for image effects. In the audience treatment, stated reports are significantly higher than in the private treatment. This suggests that overconfident appearance might be a consequence of social approval seeking. We also find that men state higher self-assessments than women. This gender difference seems to be driven by men responding more strongly to the presence of an audience.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6425.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6425
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  1. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Reuben, Ernesto & Rey-Biel, Pedro & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2010. "The Emergence of Male Leadership in Competitive Environments," IZA Discussion Papers 5300, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  4. Armin Falk & Florian Zimmermann, 2011. "Preferences for Consistency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3528, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Sandra Ludwig & Julia Nafziger, 2011. "Beliefs about overconfidence," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(4), pages 475-500, April.
  6. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 5768, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Jean‐Pierre Benoît & Juan Dubra, 2011. "Apparent Overconfidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1591-1625, 09.
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