We study belief updating about relative performance in an ego-relevant task. Manipulating the perceived ego relevance of the task, we show that subjects update their beliefs optimistically because they derive direct utility flows from holding positive beliefs. This finding provides a behavioral explanation why and how overconfidence can evolve in the presence of objective information. Moreover, we document that subjects, who received more bad signals, downplay the ego-relevance of the task. Taken together, these findings suggest that subjects use two alternative strategies to protect their ego when presented with objective information.
Contact person: Marina Chugunova
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