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Overconfidence in Political Behavior

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  • Pietro Ortoleva
  • Erik Snowberg

Abstract

This paper studies, theoretically and empirically, the role of overconfidence in political behavior. Our model of overconfidence in beliefs predicts that overconfidence leads to ideological extremeness, increased voter turnout, and increased strength of partisan identification. Moreover, the model makes many nuanced predictions about the patterns of ideology in society, and over a person's lifetime. These predictions are tested using unique data that measure the overconfidence, and standard political characteristics, of a nationwide sample of over 3,000 adults. Our predictions, eight in total, find strong support in this data. In particular, we document that overconfidence is a substantively and statistically important predictor of ideological extremeness and voter turnout.

Suggested Citation

  • Pietro Ortoleva & Erik Snowberg, 2013. "Overconfidence in Political Behavior," NBER Working Papers 19250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19250
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner & Ludger Wößmann, 2018. "Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 7000, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Degan, Arianna & Li, Ming, 2015. "Psychologically-based voting with uncertainty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 242-259.
    3. McMurray, Joseph, 2017. "Voting as communicating: Mandates, multiple candidates, and the signaling voter's curse," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 199-223.
    4. Attanasi, Giuseppe & Corazzini, Luca & Passarelli, Francesco, 2017. "Voting as a lottery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 129-137.
    5. Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier, 2016. "Beliefs, Politics, and Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 226-244.
    6. repec:wsi:serxxx:v:62:y:2017:i:01:n:s0217590816500107 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Maxime MENUET, 2016. "Does Overconfidence Drag Out War?," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2394, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    8. Pietro Ortoleva & Erik Snowberg, 2015. "Overconfidence in Political Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 504-535, February.
    9. Etienne Farvaque & Norimichi Matsueda, 2017. "Optimal Term Length For An Overconfident Central Banker," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 62(01), pages 179-192, March.
    10. repec:eee:pubeco:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:54-65 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2017. "Norms in Bargaining: Evidence from Government Formation in Spain," NBER Working Papers 24137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Olivier Gossner & Jakub Steiner, 2016. "Optimal Illusion of Control and Related Perception Biases," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp571, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    13. Ben Lockwood & James Rockey, 2015. "Negative Voters: Electoral Competition with Loss-Aversion," Discussion Papers in Economics 15/15, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    14. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2017. "Norms in bargaining: evidence from government formation in Spain," Working Papers 1741, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    15. Ortoleva, Pietro & Snowberg, Erik, 2015. "Are conservatives overconfident?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 333-344.
    16. Lockwood, Ben, 2017. "Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 11(4), pages 471-501, February.
    17. Mattozzi, Andrea; Snowberg, Erik, 2015. "The Right Type of Legislator: A Theory of Taxation and Representation," Economics Working Papers ECO2015/03, European University Institute.
    18. Le Yaouanq, Yves, 2018. "A Model of Ideological Thinking," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 85, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    19. Carlos Viana de Carvalho & Eduardo Zilberman & Ruy Ribeiro, "undated". "Sentiment, Electoral Uncertainty and Stock Returns," Textos para discussão 655, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    20. Alberto Alesina & Francesco Passarelli, 2015. "Loss Aversion in Politics," NBER Working Papers 21077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2013. "Rational Ignorance, Elections, and Reform," MPRA Paper 68638, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Dec 2015.
    22. Julia P. Prims & Don A. Moore, 2017. "Overconfidence over the lifespan," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 12(1), pages 29-41, January.
    23. Michał Krawczyk & Maciej Wilamowski, 2015. "Are we all overconfident in the long run? Evidence from one million marathon participants," Working Papers 2015-01, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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