Is Overconfidence a Motivated Bias? Experimental Evidence

Logg, J. M., Haran, U. & Moore, D. A. (2018). Is Overconfidence a Motivated Bias? Experimental Evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147, (10), 1445–1465. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000500

21 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2018 Last revised: 27 Oct 2018

See all articles by Jennifer Logg

Jennifer Logg

Harvard University

Uriel Haran

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Don A. Moore

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: October 2, 2018

Abstract

Are overconfident beliefs driven by the motivation to view oneself positively? We test the relationship between motivation and overconfidence using two distinct, but often conflated measures: better-than-average (BTA) beliefs and overplacement. Our results suggest that motivation can indeed affect these faces of overconfidence, but only under limited conditions. Whereas BTA beliefs are inflated by motivation, introducing some specificity and clarity to the standards of assessment (Experiment 1) or to the trait’s definition (Experiments 2 and 3) reduces or eliminates this bias in judgment overall. We find stronger support for a cognitive explanation for overconfidence, which emphasizes the effect of task difficulty. The difficulty of possessing a desirable trait (Experiment 4) or succeeding on math and logic problems (Experiment 5) affects self-assessment more consistently than does motivation. Finally, we find the lack of an objective standard for vague traits allows people to create idiosyncratic definitions and view themselves as better than others in their own unique ways (Experiment 6). Overall, the results suggest motivation’s effect on BTA beliefs is driven more by idiosyncratic construals of assessment than by self-enhancing delusion. They also suggest that by focusing on vague measures (BTA rather than overplacement) and vague traits, prior research may have exaggerated the role of motivation in overconfidence.

Keywords: self-perception, overconfidence, motivation, Better-Than-Average effect, specificity

Suggested Citation

Logg, Jennifer and Haran, Uriel and Moore, Don A., Is Overconfidence a Motivated Bias? Experimental Evidence (October 2, 2018). Logg, J. M., Haran, U. & Moore, D. A. (2018). Is Overconfidence a Motivated Bias? Experimental Evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147, (10), 1445–1465. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000500. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3157106 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3157106

Jennifer Logg (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Uriel Haran

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

P.O. Box 653
Beer-Sheva, ----------------- 8410501
Israel
086472776 (Phone)

Don A. Moore

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
63
rank
329,227
Abstract Views
313
PlumX Metrics