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Overconfidence in Political Behavior

Ortoleva, Pietro and Snowberg, Erik (2015) Overconfidence in Political Behavior. American Economic Review, 105 (2). pp. 504-535. ISSN 0002-8282.

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This paper studies, theoretically and empirically, the role of overconfidence in political behavior. Our model of overconfidence in beliefs predicts that overconfidence leads to ideological extremeness, increased voter turnout, and stronger partisan identification. The model also makes nuanced predictions about the patterns of ideology in society. These predictions are tested using unique data that measure the overconfidence and standard political characteristics of a nationwide sample of over 3,000 adults. Our numerous predictions find strong support in these data. In particular, we document that overconfidence is a substantively and statistically important predictor of ideological extremeness, voter turnout, and partisan identification.

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Additional Information:© 2015 American Economic Association. Snowberg gratefully acknowledges the support of NSF grant SES-1156154. We thank Stephen Ansolabehere, Marc Meredith, Chris Tausanovitch, and Christopher Warshaw for sharing their data, and Sergio Montero and Gerelt Tserenjigmid for excellent research assistance. The authors are indebted to John Aldrich, Scott Ashworth, Larry Bartels, Roland Bénabou, Jon Bendor, Adam Berinsky, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, John Bullock, Steve Callander, Pedro Dal Bó, Ben Gillen, Faruk Gül, Horacio Larreguy, Gabe Lenz, Alessandro Lizzeri, John Matsusaka, Andrea Mattozzi, Antonio Merlo, Massimo Morelli, Steve Morris, Gerard Padró-i-Miquel, Eric Oliver, Wolfgang Pesendorfer, Matthew Rabin, Ken Shotts, Holger Sieg, Theda Skocpol, Mike Ting, Francesco Trebbi, Leeat Yariv, and Eric Zitzewitz for useful discussions. We also thank seminar participants at the AEA, the University of British Columbia, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, the IV Workshop on Institutions at CRENoS, the University of Maryland, MPSA, the NBER, the Nanyang Technological University, NYU, HEC Paris, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, the Prioriat Workshop, USC, SPSA, and Washington University, St. Louis for thoughtful feedback.
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Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:JEL: C83, D03, D72, D83
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150313-134020621
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Official Citation:Ortoleva, Pietro, and Erik Snowberg. 2015. "Overconfidence in Political Behavior." American Economic Review, 105(2): 504-35
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:55756
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Mar 2015 20:55
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 08:08

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