IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Identifying Confirmatory Bias in the Field: Evidence from a Poll of Experts

  • Rodney J. Andrews
  • Trevon D. Logan
  • Michael J. Sinkey

Laboratory experiments have established the existence of cognitive biases, but their explanatory power in real-world economic settings has been difficult to measure. We estimate the extent of a cognitive bias, confirmatory bias, among experts in a real-world environment. In the Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll expert pollsters are tasked with assessing team quality, and their beliefs are treated week-to-week with game results that serve as signals about an individual team's quality. We exploit the variation provided by actual game results relative to market expectations to develop a novel regression-discontinuity approach to identify confirmatory bias in this real-world setting. We construct a unique personally-assembled dataset that matches more than twenty years of individual game characteristics to poll results and betting market information, and show that teams that slightly exceed and barely miss market expectations are exchangeable. The likelihood of winning the game, the average number of points scored by teams and their opponents, and even the average week of the season are no different between teams that slightly exceed and barely miss market expectations. Pollsters, however, significantly upgrade their beliefs about a team's quality when a team slightly exceeds market expectations. The effects are sizeable-- nearly half of the voters in the poll rank a team one slot higher when they slightly exceed market expectations; one-fifth of the standard deviation in poll points in a given week can be attributed to confirmatory bias. This type of updating suggests that even when informed agents make repeated decisions they may act in a manner which is consistent with confirmatory bias.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18064.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18064.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18064
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
  2. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  3. Gennaioli, N. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2010. "What Comes to Mind," Scholarly Articles 27867129, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. John List & Omar Al-Ubaydli, 2012. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics," Artefactual Field Experiments 00467, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2011. "The Role of Theory in Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 17047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Martin Jones & Robert Sugden, 2001. "Positive confirmation bias in the acquisition of information," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 59-99, February.
  7. John List & Steven Levitt, 2008. "Homo economicus evolves," Artefactual Field Experiments 00095, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Matthew Kotchen & Matthew Potoski, 2011. "Conflicts of Interest Distort Public Evaluations: Evidence from the Top 25 Ballots of NCAA Football Coaches," NBER Working Papers 17628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Card, David & Dahl, Gordon B., 2010. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 4869, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  11. repec:feb:framed:0077 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Alan I. Barreca & Jason M. Lindo & Glen R. Waddell, 2016. "Heaping-Induced Bias In Regression-Discontinuity Designs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 268-293, 01.
  13. B. Jay Coleman & Andres Gallo & Paul M. Mason & Jeffrey W. Steagall, 2010. "Voter Bias in the Associated Press College Football Poll," Journal of Sports Economics, The North American Association of Sports Economists, vol. 11(4), pages 397-417, August.
  14. Trevon Logan, 2011. "Econometric tests of American college football's conventional wisdom," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(20), pages 2493-2518.
  15. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  16. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
  18. Melissa Dell, 2010. "The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1863-1903, November.
  19. Matsudaira, Jordan D., 2008. "Mandatory summer school and student achievement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 829-850, February.
  20. repec:feb:natura:0056 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. repec:feb:artefa:0095 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18064. 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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.