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Overconfidence Is Universal? Elicitation of Genuine Overconfidence (EGO) Method Reveals Systematic Differences Across Domain, Task Knowledge, and Incentives in Four Populations

48 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2017  

Michael Muthukrishna

London School of Economics and Political Science

Joseph Henrich

Harvard University; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Wataru Toyokawa

University of St. Andrews - School of Biology

Takeshi Hamamura

Curtin University - School of Psychology and Speech Pathology

Tatsuya Kameda

Hokkaido University - Behavioral Science; Stanford University - Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

Steven J. Heine

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Date Written: September 1, 2017

Abstract

Overconfidence is often assumed to be a human universal, but there remains a dearth of data systematically measuring overconfidence across populations and contexts. Moreover, cross-cultural experiments often fail to distinguish between placement and precision and worse still, often compare population-mean placement estimates rather than individual performance subtracted from placement. Here we introduce a new method for concurrently capturing both placement and precision at an individual level based on individual performance: The Elicitation of Genuine Overconfidence (EGO) method. We conducted experiments using the EGO method, manipulating domain, task knowledge, and incentives across four populations—Japanese, Hong Kong Chinese, Euro Canadians, and East Asian Canadians. We find that previous measures of population-level overconfidence may have been misleading; rather than universal, overconfidence is highly context dependent. Our results reveal cross-cultural differences in sensitivity to incentives and differences in overconfidence strategies, with underconfidence, accuracy, and overconfidence. Comparing sexes, we find inconsistent results for overplacement, but that males are consistently more confident in their placement. These findings have implications for our understanding of the adaptive value of overconfidence and its role in explaining population-level and individual-level differences in economic and psychological behavior.

Keywords: overconfidence, self-enhancement, cultural psychology, cross-cultural differences, sex differences

Suggested Citation

Muthukrishna, Michael and Henrich, Joseph and Toyokawa, Wataru and Hamamura, Takeshi and Kameda, Tatsuya and Heine, Steven J., Overconfidence Is Universal? Elicitation of Genuine Overconfidence (EGO) Method Reveals Systematic Differences Across Domain, Task Knowledge, and Incentives in Four Populations (September 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3064202

Michael Muthukrishna (Contact Author)

London School of Economics and Political Science ( email )

Houghton Street, Social Psychology
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Joseph Henrich

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Wataru Toyokawa

University of St. Andrews - School of Biology ( email )

North St
Saint Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ
United Kingdom

Takeshi Hamamura

Curtin University - School of Psychology and Speech Pathology ( email )

Kent Street
Bentley
Perth, WA 6102
Australia

Tatsuya Kameda

Hokkaido University - Behavioral Science ( email )

Sapporo, Hokkaido 0
Japan

Stanford University - Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

75 Alta Rd
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Steven Heine

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

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