Persistent Overconfidence and Biased Memory: Evidence from Managers

David Huffman (University of Pittsburgh)
Collin Raymond (Purdue University)
Julia Shvets (University of Cambridge)

Abstract: A long-standing puzzle is how overconfidence can persist in settings characterized by repeated feedback. This paper studies managers who participate repeatedly in a high-powered tournament incentive system, learning relative performance each time. Using reduced form and structural methods we find that: (i) managers make overconfident predictions about future performance; (ii) managers have overly-positive memories of past performance; (iii) the two phenomena are linked at an individual level. Our results are consistent with models of moti- vated beliefs in which individuals preserve unrealistic expectations by distorting memories.