Julia Shvets
U. of Cambridge



(Tuesday, 21st May 2024)

Title : Self-confidence, feedback and performance

We start with two observations.  Though the first one is more of a question:  Do you think self-confidence matters for how we make decisions?  

Most of us would say “yes”.  Yet, this is not something that typically features in economic models.  Economists like to talk about ‘ability’, but often what matters is our perception of our ability.  

The second observation is that, from Adam Smith to Daniel Kahneman, clever people have noticed that our perceptions about our ability are often disconnected from reality.  

These observations imply that self-confidence is something that economists should be studying and incorporating into their models.  They raise many interesting questions: Where does self-confidence come from?  Why are some people overly cocky whilst others lack confidence?  Would giving people more feedback and information make this go away?  How do these perceptions affect our decisions?

Recently economists have been exploring these ideas, both theoretically and empirically.  In this workshop, we will look at some of this work.  We will talk about the origins of self-confidence (or lack of it), and explore how it is linked to feedback and, ultimately, to our choices and performance.  


A few relevant papers:

Roland Bénabou, and Jean Tirole, 2002 “Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 117 (3): 871–915. 

Nina Hestermann, and Yves Le Yaouanq, 2021. “Experimenting with Self-Serving Attribution Biases.” American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 13 (3):198–237. 

David Huffman, Collin Raymond and Julia Shvets, 2022 “Persistent Overconfidence and Biased Memory: Evidence from Managers.” American Economic Review 112(10): 3141-3175

Botond Koszegi, George Loewenstein and Takeshi Murooka, 2022 “Fragile Self-Esteem.” Review of Economic Studies 89: 2026-2060