Overconfidence in Initial Self-Efficacy Judgments: Effects on Decision Processes and Performance

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158 Scopus citations

Abstract

Judgments of task-specific, expected performance (i.e., self-efficacy) can affect the activities one chooses to pursue and the extent of effort devoted to these activities. However, relatively little is known about the accuracy of self-efficacy judgments or their effects on behavior, performance, and perceptions of performance in complex cognitive tasks. The results of a pilot study and experiment indicate that initial, "first-impression" self-efficacy judgments made in cognitively complex tasks are biased toward overestimates of personal ability (i.e., "overconfidence"). The experiment manipulated performance expectations to illuminate how overestimates of initial self-efficacy affect decision making. Inducing positive expectations produced overconfidence in choice accuracy, but did not increase effort, attention to strategy, or performance relative to mildly negative and strongly negative expectations. In contrast, inducing mildly negative expectations increased effort, attention to strategy, and performance relative to strongly negative expectations. The results suggest that the demotivational effects of initial negative expectations are more robust than the motivational effects of initial positive expectations. ln addition, inducing mildly negative expectations may improve performance more than positive expectations in at least some tasks and settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-474
Number of pages23
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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