Self Attribution Bias of the CEO: Evidence from CEO Interviews on CNBC

56 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013 Last revised: 24 Nov 2014

Date Written: February 7, 2013


Self attribution bias (SAB, hereafter) is a mechanism that engenders overconfidence by attributing good performance to one’s ability and bad performance to bad luck or the environment (Gervais and Odean, 2001). Using the transcripts of CEO interviews on CNBC, we measure the SAB of the CEO. Consistent with the prediction by Gervais, Heaton, and Odean (2011) and Goel and Thakor (2008), we find concave non-linear relation between SAB and the market response to acquisition announcements. We also find that the CEOs with SAB are more likely to be fired and more sensitively to performance, especially under stronger governance regime of Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX). Our results are robust after controlling for the selection bias to be in the CNBC interview. We consider and rule out alternative explanations, such as journalists’ impact on governance and CEO’s narcissism.

Keywords: Self-serving attribution bias, overconfidence, CEO turnover, investment cash flow sensitivity, CNBC, media, corporate governance, mergers and acquisition, diversification

JEL Classification: G30, G34

Suggested Citation

Kim, Y. Han (Andy), Self Attribution Bias of the CEO: Evidence from CEO Interviews on CNBC (February 7, 2013). Journal of Banking & Finance (2013) 37 (7), 2472-2489, Available at SSRN: or

Y. Han (Andy) Kim (Contact Author)

Sungkyunkwan University ( email )

422 School of Business
25-2 SungKyunKwan-Ro, Jongno-ju
Seoul, 110-745
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
+82-2-760-0622 (Phone)
+82-2-760-0622 (Fax)

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