IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17014.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Markus M. Mobius
  • Muriel Niederle
  • Paul Niehaus
  • Tanya S. Rosenblat

Abstract

Evidence from social psychology suggests that agents process information about their own ability in a biased manner. This evidence has motivated exciting research in behavioral economics, but has also garnered critics who point out that it is potentially consistent with standard Bayesian updating. We implement a direct experimental test. We study a large sample of 656 undergraduate students, tracking the evolution of their beliefs about their own relative performance on an IQ test as they receive noisy feedback from a known data-generating process. Our design lets us repeatedly measure the complete relevant belief distribution incentive-compatibly. We find that subjects (1) place approximately full weight on their priors, but (2) are asymmetric, over-weighting positive feedback relative to negative, and (3) conservative, updating too little in response to both positive and negative signals. These biases are substantially less pronounced in a placebo experiment where ego is not at stake. We also find that (4) a substantial portion of subjects are averse to receiving information about their ability, and that (5) less confident subjects are causally more likely to be averse. We unify these phenomena by showing that they all arise naturally in a simple model of optimally biased Bayesian information processing.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus M. Mobius & Muriel Niederle & Paul Niehaus & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2011. "Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 17014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17014
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17014.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2005. "Optimal Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1092-1118, September.
    2. Epstein, Larry G. & Noor, Jawwad & Sandroni, Alvaro, 2008. "Non-Bayesian updating: A theoretical framework," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(2), June.
    3. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    4. Theo Offerman & Joep Sonnemans & Gijs Van De Kuilen & Peter P. Wakker, 2009. "A Truth Serum for Non-Bayesians: Correcting Proper Scoring Rules for Risk Attitudes ," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(4), pages 1461-1489.
    5. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    6. Arellano, Manuel & Honore, Bo, 2001. "Panel data models: some recent developments," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 53, pages 3229-3296, Elsevier.
    7. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
    8. Edi Karni, 2009. "A Mechanism for Eliciting Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 603-606, March.
    9. Olivier Compte & Andrew Postlewaite, 2004. "Confidence-Enhanced Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1536-1557, December.
    10. J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), 2001. "Handbook of Econometrics," Handbook of Econometrics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 5, number 5.
    11. Ján Zábojník, 2004. "A model of rational bias in self-assessments," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 23(2), pages 259-282, January.
    12. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2000. "The value of information when preferences are dynamically inconsistent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1104-1115, May.
    14. Franklin Allen, 1987. "Notes--Discovering Personal Probabilities When Utility Functions are Unknown," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(4), pages 542-544, April.
    15. David M. Grether, 1980. "Bayes Rule as a Descriptive Model: The Representativeness Heuristic," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(3), pages 537-557.
    16. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    17. Eliaz, Kfir & Schotter, Andrew, 2010. "Paying for confidence: An experimental study of the demand for non-instrumental information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 304-324, November.
    18. Grether, David M., 1992. "Testing bayes rule and the representativeness heuristic: Some experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 31-57, January.
    19. Benoît, Jean-Pierre & Dubra, Juan, 2007. "Overconfidence?," MPRA Paper 6017, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2007.
    20. 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.
    21. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    22. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    23. Jean‐Pierre Benoît & Juan Dubra, 2011. "Apparent Overconfidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1591-1625, September.
    24. Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
    25. Cade Massey & George Wu, 2005. "Detecting Regime Shifts: The Causes of Under- and Overreaction," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(6), pages 932-947, June.
    26. David Eil & Justin M. Rao, 2011. "The Good News-Bad News Effect: Asymmetric Processing of Objective Information about Yourself," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 114-138, May.
    27. Luís Santos-Pinto & Joel Sobel, 2005. "A Model of Positive Self-Image in Subjective Assessments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1386-1402, December.
    28. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    29. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
    30. Andrea Wilson, 2003. "Bounded Memory and Biases in Information Processing," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 234936000000000070, www.najecon.org.
    31. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774.
    32. Botond Köszegi, 2006. "Ego Utility, Overconfidence, and Task Choice," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 673-707, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Kai Barron, 2021. "Belief updating: does the ‘good-news, bad-news’ asymmetry extend to purely financial domains?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(1), pages 31-58, March.
    2. Barron, Kai, 2020. "Belief updating: does the `good-news, bad-news' asymmetry extend to purely financial domains?," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    3. Hestermann, Nina & Le Yaouanq, Yves, 2018. "It\'s not my Fault! Self-Confidence and Experimentation," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 124, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    4. Coutts, Alexander, 2019. "Testing models of belief bias: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 549-565.
    5. Augenblick, Ned & Cunha, Jesse M. & Dal Bó, Ernesto & Rao, Justin M., 2016. "The economics of faith: using an apocalyptic prophecy to elicit religious beliefs in the field," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 38-49.
    6. Ertac, Seda, 2011. "Does self-relevance affect information processing? Experimental evidence on the response to performance and non-performance feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 532-545.
    7. Francesca Lipari, 2018. "This Is How We Do It: How Social Norms and Social Identity Shape Decision Making under Uncertainty," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-31, December.
    8. Heger, Stephanie A. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2018. "We should totally open a restaurant: How optimism and overconfidence affect beliefs," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 177-190.
    9. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2020. "Feedback spillovers across tasks, self-confidence and competitiveness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 127-170.
    10. Guy Mayraz, 2011. "Wishful Thinking," CEP Discussion Papers dp1092, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Peter Schwardmann & Joël van der Weele, 2016. "Deception and Self-Deception," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-012/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Daniel J. Benjamin, 2018. "Errors in Probabilistic Reasoning and Judgment Biases," NBER Working Papers 25200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Ambuehl, Sandro & Li, Shengwu, 2018. "Belief updating and the demand for information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 21-39.
    14. Alexander Coutts, 2019. "Good news and bad news are still news: experimental evidence on belief updating," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(2), pages 369-395, June.
    15. Gary Charness & Aldo Rustichini & Jeroen Ven, 2018. "Self-confidence and strategic behavior," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(1), pages 72-98, March.
    16. Cacault, Maria Paula & Grieder, Manuel, 2019. "How group identification distorts beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 63-76.
    17. Carmen Thoma, 2016. "Under- versus overconfidence: an experiment on how others perceive a biased self-assessment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(1), pages 218-239, March.
    18. Gottlieb, Daniel, 2014. "Imperfect memory and choice under risk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 127-158.
    19. Benoît, Jean-Pierre & Dubra, Juan, 2007. "Overconfidence?," MPRA Paper 6017, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2007.
    20. Juan Dubra & Jean-Pierre Benoît & Giorgia Romagnoli, 2019. "Belief elicitation when more than money matters," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1901, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    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:nbr:nberwo:17014. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.