Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Psychology > Men's Honest Overconfidence May Lead… >
Men's Honest Overconfidence May Lead to Male Domination in the C-suite

Published: November 28, 2011.
By Columbia Business School
http://www.gsb.columbia.edu/

A study conducted by Columbia Business School's Prof. Ernesto Reuben, Assistant Professor, Management, alongside Pedro Rey-Biel, Associate Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Paola Sapienza, Associate Professor, Professor of Finance, Northwestern University, and Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, finds men's honest overconfidence — not overt discrimination — may play an important role in male domination of the C-suite. The research was recently featured in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization and Columbia Business School's Ideas at Work. While part of the persistent gender gap in leadership at firms can be attributed to discrimination, the researchers sought to determine if the underlying causes of such selection issues may go beyond simple conscious discrimination. The study discovers how the differences in the way men and women think of themselves and react to incentives may be creating gender differences that lead to leadership gaps, rather than the gap being caused solely by discrimination in the selection process. Specifically men's tendency to exhibit natural overconfidence in their past performances may attribute to the lack of greater female representation in upper management and executive positions.

The experimental design allowed the researchers to isolate the effect of gender differences on women leadership. The experiment consisted of two parts. The study first asked MBA students to complete a set of math problems; both men and women performed about the same. One year later, the researchers brought back the same students, asking them to recall their previous years' performance. The researchers found that when they compared actual with recalled performance, most participants overestimated their performance — a tendency documented in different forms in different studies. The major difference was that men consistently rated their past performance about 30 percent higher than it really was. Women, on the other hand, consistently rated their past performance only about 15 percent higher than it actually was.

Next, the researchers asked participants to estimate their performance on a task if chosen to represent a group, and were then divided into groups to complete the same math problem. The group was split into 33 groups of two or four members. Each group had to choose a representative and would compete with the other groups, with a generous cash prize awarded to the highest-scoring team. It was, then, in the best interest of the group to choose the person who had performed best on the problem sets in the past. This time the researchers also added an incentive: for some (but not all) groups, the representatives got an additional payment of either $20 or $75. In groups where leaders get no additional cash prize, individual and group incentives were aligned: that is, if a group knew a woman was better, its best interest was to pick her or sacrifice its competitive edge and the financial reward. In the groups whose leaders received a payment simply for being chosen to lead, an individual could then be chosen as a rep if they lied about their performance, and the group would lose while the leader would gain.

The results revealed that, on average, both men and women were willing to lie about their performance. When participants had an incentive to lie, they lied more, and the incidence of lying increased as the monetary award for being chosen as leader increased. While women kept pace with men on how frequently they lied, women did not exaggerate their performance to the same degree. As a result, women were selected 1/3 less often than their abilities would otherwise indicate. In other words, while there is no gender differential when it comes to lying, there is a significant gender differential when it comes to "honest" overconfidence: the main difference in women not being selected as leaders appears to be attributable to men's overconfidence in their abilities.

The study suggests an important takeaway for firms: recruiters should consider overconfidence when considering male candidates' claims about past performance. Employers who are not aware of the tendency for men to unconsciously inflate their performance could mistake that overconfidence for true performance, and overlook better female candidates. Furthermore, the researchers find this aspect of gender difference is hard to correct. Columbia Business School Professor Ernesto Reuben explains, "It's not just a matter of telling men not to lie — because they honestly believe their performance is 30 percent better than it really is. Similarly, it's not as if you can simply tell women they should inflate their own sense of overconfidence to be on par with that of men."


Show Reference »


Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ScienceNewsline.
Related »

Men 
2/4/13 

Men Are from Mars Earth, Women Are from Venus Earth
By University of Rochester
Women 
10/27/11 
Gender Differences: Viewing TV Coverage of Terrorism Has More Negative Effect on Women
By University of Haifa
Viewing TV coverage of terrorism has more negative effect on women. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa. "It is possible that the …
Gender 
11/10/11 
Researchers Find Risk-taking Behavior Rises Until Age 50
By University of Oregon
Willing to risk your knowledge, skills and monetary reward in competition? If you are under age 50, you've probably not reached your competitive peak. If you are older, that …
Women 
5/28/13 
Women Donate Less to Charity Than Men in Some Contexts
By University of Chicago
Given the chance, women are more likely than men to dodge an opportunity to donate to charity, a group of economists have found. The issue of which gender …
Women 
8/30/11 
Suicide Methods Differ Between Men And Women
By Springer
Women who commit suicide are more likely than men to avoid facial disfiguration, but not necessarily in the name of vanity. Valerie Callanan from the University of Akron and …
Pain 
5/21/13 

Doctors Prescribe More Analgesics to Women Than to Men Just for Being Female
By FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Women 
8/27/13 
New Research Shows Benefit of Interval Training for Women
By Bowling Green State University
BOWLING GREEN, O. -- Interval training is a well-known way to get the maximum benefits of exercise in the shortest amount of time. New research shows that when it …
Roles 
6/11/13 
★★ 
Caregiving Dads Treated Disrespectfully at Work, New Study Finds
By University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
Toronto – If policy-makers want to do something about falling birth rates, they may want to take a look at improving how people are treated at work when they …
More » 

Most Popular - Psychology »
BABIES »
Babies Prefer Fairness - but Only If It Benefits Them - in Choosing a Playmate
MOSER »
Positive, Negative Thinkers' Brains Revealed
TOUCH »
Infants Are Sensitive to Pleasant Touch
Infants show unique physiological and behavioral responses to pleasant touch, which may help to cement the bonds between child and parent and promote early social and physiological development, according …
HAPPINESS »
Cultivating Happiness Often Misunderstood, Says Stanford Researcher
The paradox of happiness is that chasing it may actually make us less happy, a Stanford researcher says. So how does one find happiness? Effective ways exist, according …
VIOLENCE »
In Child Custody Disputes, LGBT Parents Face Bias in the Courts, New Drexel Review Finds
ScienceNewsline  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese
The selection and placement of stories are determined automatically by a computer program. All contents are copyright of their owners except U.S. Government works. U.S. Government works are assumed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted. Everything else copyright ScienceNewsline.