Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence


Mobius MM, Niederle M, Niehaus P, Rosenblat T. Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence. Management Science [Internet]. 2022;68 (11) :7793-8514.
Article621 KB
NBER working paper 17014442 KB


We use a series of experiments to understand whether and how people’s beliefs about their own abilities are biased relative to the Bayesian benchmark and how these beliefs then affect behavior. We find that subjects systematically and substantially overweight positive feedback relative to negative (asymmetry) and also update too little overall (conservatism). These biases are substantially less pronounced in an ego-free control experiment. Updating does retain enough of the structure of Bayes' rule to let us model it coherently in an optimizing framework, in which, interestingly, asymmetry and conservatism emerge as complementary biases. We also find that exogenous changes in beliefs affect subjects’ decisions to enter into a competition and do so similarly for more and less biased subjects, suggesting that people cannot "undo" their biases when the time comes to decide.

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Last updated on 09/02/2023