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ISSN : 2288-4637(Print)
ISSN : 2288-4645(Online)
The Journal of Asian Finance, Economics and Business Vol.7 No.7 pp.303-308

Consumers’ Overconfidence Biases in Relation to Social Exclusion

Woong-Hee HAN1
1 First Author and Corresponding Author. Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration, Myongji University, Korea. E-mail:

© Copyright: The Author(s)
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
March 20, 2020 May 24, 2020 June 10, 2020


Unlike previous studies of overconfidence bias that have been looking for causes of overconfidence bias in human cognitive error or in the desire to view oneself positively, this study presents the cognitive narrowing resulting from the social exclusion experience as the condition of overconfidence bias. It seeks to examine what are the characteristics of cognitive narrowing, which is one of the strategies for overcoming the negative emotions resulting from social exclusion, and how cognitive errors called overconfidence bias occur due to cognitive narrowing. The present study was performed with 94 college students in Seoul. Participants were randomly assigned to a group who experienced social exclusion and a group who did not experience social exclusion. We analyzed how the degree of bias of overconfidence differs according to the experience of social exclusion by t-test. The degree of overconfidence bias of the group who experienced social exclusion was higher than that of the group who did not experience social exclusion, and the difference was statistically significant. This study extends the concepts of escaping theory and cognitive narrowing to human cognitive bias and confirmed that social exclusion experience increased cognitive narrowing and overconfidence bias. Implications and future research directions were discussed.

JEL Classification Code: D11, D12, M31


1. Introduction


People claim to be better than others on a variety of traits and attributes, including honesty (Brown, 2012), leadership skills (Dunning, Heath, & Suls, 2004), popularity (Zuckerman & Jost, 2001), and safe driving (Svenson, 1981). Business people claim that their firms are better than the average firm (Cooper, Woo, & Dunkelberg, 1988), engineers report that their work is superior to their peers’ work (Zenger, 1992), and venture capitalists are overconfident in their ability to predict which entrepreneurs will succeed (Zacharakis & Shepherd, 2001). Consumers also tend to have overconfidence in their judgment and decision-making in the purchasing process.

Social cooperation and support is essential for an individual to survive. In order to secure the skills and resources necessary for survival, people want to belong to groups and adapt their actions and ideas in the way society wants them to. Everyone has a basic desire to belong to a certain group, which is a fundamental and necessary human needs. Therefore, if an individual is excluded or rejected from the group he wishes to belong to, the individual will be greatly shocked. In addition to being psychologically frustrated and stressed, cognitive thinking ability can be impaired.

In recent years, as the complexity and diversity of society increases, it is often found that the exclusion and discrimination of other members increase and become more common, rather than acknowledging and respecting the existence and value of each member. This means that the number of people who have experienced exclusion, discrimination and rejection is increasing, and as a result, more people are also suffering from negative emotions and cognitive impairment.

Previous studies of over-confident bias are looking for causes of over-confident bias in human cognitive error (Gigerenzer, 2008; Kahneman & Tversky, 1996) or in the desire to view oneself positively (Dunning, 2005; Fabricius & Buttgen, 2013). Unlike previous studies, present study starts with the recognition that human cognitive errors are not congenital or constant. And this study presents the cognitive narrowing resulting from the social exclusion experience as such conditions and situations.

This study examines the characteristics of cognitive narrowing, which is one of the strategies for overcoming the negative emotions resulting from social exclusion, and how cognitive errors called overconfidence bias occur due to cognitive narrowing. In other words, this study explores how cognitive impairment caused by social exclusion experience can be explained through cognitive narrowing and how it affects consumer's judgment and reasoning and result overconfidence bias. This study is expected to be useful for the study of social exclusion and the resulting consumer behavior, in particular, the error of consumer decision making and the company's marketing strategy.


2. Literature Review


Overconfidence occurs when people's confidence in our judgments, inferences, and predictions is much higher than actual accuracy. Many studies in marketing and psychology have shown that people tend to be overconfident that their knowledge is accurate (Alba & Hutchinson, 2000). The different meanings of the term overconfidence all reflect different ways of comparing subjective beliefs and reality. Among them, two methods have been used, probabilistic prediction of the accuracy of statements and choices, and prediction of confidence intervals. In the first method, overconfidence occurs when the average confidence judgment exceeds the overall proportion of the exact statement or choice. In the second method, overconfidence occurs when the confidence interval around the estimate is very narrow (Hoffrage, 2004).

Kahneman and Tversky (1996) viewed overconfidence as a cognitive bias caused by errors in processing information. These cognitive theories do a good job accounting for important features of the empirical evidence, such as the finding that people underestimate their performance on easy tasks and show underplacement when considering difficult tasks (Moore & Small, 2007) or the finding that people see themselves as worse than average on rare traits and behaviors (Kruger & Burrus, 2004).

Some research argues that the irrational aspect of consumers aroused by the inherent limitations of human cognitive capability (Kahneman & Tversky, 1982). Other research argues that the irrationality has its own rationality (Gigerenzer, 2008). The former view argues that rational judgments and decision-making are biased due to cognitive limitations. Dual process model explains why people fall into cognitive error. According to this model, if System 1 is activated, people can fall into cognitive error. This model is the basis on which System 1 can operate according to the nature of the processed task and the motivation of the people (Logg, Haran, & Moore, 2018).

In an early study of probabilistic prediction methods, Adams and Adams (1961) conducted an experiment that asked participants to tell the subjective probabilities (from 0% to 100%) of various events. In this experiment, the confidence value was determined by the difference between the answers of the respondents with x % confidence and the actual correct answer. Subsequent studies use two-alternative forced-choice tasks (2AFC) to allow participants to choose which of two alternatives is correct. For example, "Which city is located farther north, Rome or New York?" or "Is Absinthe a gem or a drink?" are asked to the participants. Participants choose one of the two and then immediately answer with a 10% interval from 50% to 100% as to whether they have chosen the correct answer.

Since keeping up a steady social relationship is so significant for human endurance and security, the longing to have a place is one of the most essential and key inspirations (Smith, Murphy, and Coats 1999). Along these lines, considers have indicated that what is acknowledged and dismissed by social gatherings has a wide scope of consequences for people. Wellbeing, joy and prosperity are firmly identified with whether individuals are acknowledged or denied, and the individuals who are denied of close social relationships have more negative mental or physical outcomes than those with solid interpersonal organizations (Cacioppo, Hawkley, and Berntson, 2003). Social rejection can likewise cause physiological reactions, for example, raised pulse, torment related mind zones being enacted (Eisenberger, Lieberman, and Williams, 2003), and negative consequences for mental prosperity.

Exclusion from social gatherings has been appeared to impede intellectual capacity. The individuals who experience social rejection have been appeared to twist time observation, to underline the present as opposed to the future, to show dormant inactivity, and to maintain a strategic distance from mindfulness (Twenge, Catanese, and Baumeister, 2003). Exclusion from social gatherings can prompt tension or different types of passionate misery that can prompt transient hindrances of psychological capacity, bringing about different intellectual deficiencies, for example, sensible thinking issue (Baumeister, Twenge, and Nuss, 2002).

At the point when individuals find the chance of social prohibition, they might have the option to smother their passionate reactions, which will seize human self-administrative frameworks. On the off chance that the assets of oneself are completely used to smother feelings, they won't be sufficient to control the subjective procedure. Subsequently, progressively programmed intellectual procedures can be worked generally unblemished, yet controlled procedures can be hard to work. At the end of the day, social rejection corners a portion of the assets of the self-execution work, specifically sabotaging the controlled procedure. Inevitably, they will have less effect on generally programmed (less proficient and less controlled) assignments, yet harm can be found in errands that require dynamic speculation, for example, thinking and rationale (Han, 2020a).

The Escape Model depends on the hypothesis of contrasting the perfect self and the genuine self and has been applied to account for reckless practices, for example, voraciously consuming food and self-destruction (Heatherton and Baumeister, 1991). Mindfulness can here and there be oppressive for individuals, particularly when their gauges are high or when they are described by hairsplitting and when they neglect to meet their objectives or goals (Duval and Wicklund, 1972).

One approach to lessen negative feelings is to decrease mindfulness, making the inconsistency among self and related measures not, at this point articulated (Duval and Wicklund, 1972). This decrease of mindfulness, cognitive narrowing, is one of the significant kinds of getaways considered in escape models.

On account of cognitive narrowing, the focal point of consideration is limited by concentrating just on current thoughts within reach, explicit and low-level thoughts, and declining to think extensively and genuinely (Baumeister, 1990). The more individuals attempt to stay away from important reasoning, the more outlandish they are to be judicious and less basic, and the almost certain they are not to discover any questions of convictions or ends.

The explanation behind nonsensical reasoning or unreasonable discernment is that the ordinary example of thinking was interfered, bringing about a sort of mental void (Bauer and Anderson, 1989; Butterfield and Leclair, 1988).

Cognitive narrowing likewise keeps us from considering the drawn-out significance of specific practices, for instance, causal reasoning (Faver, 2004). Among the different subjective bends brought about by cognitive narrowing, the bogus attribution and the absence of causal reasoning are especially unmistakable, which is identified with the overconfidence error (Han, 2020a).

Negative emotions resulting from experiences of social exclusion can be expected to lead to cognitive narrowing. Cognitive narrowing can also be expected to cause cognitive distortions and cognitive errors. Specifically, the group who experienced social exclusion can be expected to have higher cognitive error, especially overconfidence bias, than the group who did not experience social exclusion. Social exclusion dominates the resources of the self-execution function, undermining the controlled process. Consequently, they will have less influence on automatic tasks, and damage is found in tasks that require active reasoning and logic. Based on these studies, the hypothesis can be drawn as follows.


Hypothesis: People with social exclusion experience will have a higher degree of overconfidence bias than people without social exclusion experience.


3. Research Methods


This study was conducted with 94 college students in Seoul. Participants were randomly assigned to a group who experienced social exclusion and a group who did not experience social exclusion. We analyzed how the degree of bias of overconfidence differs according to the experience of social exclusion.

The manipulation of social exclusion experiences has utilized scenario manipulation methods for applying for membership (Wan, Xu, & Ding, 2014). Participants were given a story and asked to read it carefully. and emphasized the importance of getting into the character's role and emotions while reading the story as if in the same event in real life. The scenario shows that the main character preparing for employment is eager to join SUCCESS, a job preparation club that provides solid information and effective learning strategies and boasts high employment success rates. It contains that the main character has submitted a membership application to the job preparation club 'SUCCESS'. Under social exclusion, the main character was contacted by the club a few days later that his application was denied. And under social inclusion, the main character was informed that the application was approved. Participants were asked to describe in detail their feelings after reading the story (Rucker, Dubois, & Galinsky, 2011). Next, participants were asked to respond to manipulation check question about feelings of exclusion or neglect while describing the experience (1=strongly disagree, 7=strongly agree). The participants were then presented with a task related to pseudodiagnosticity and asked to resolve.

The following five questions were asked to participants in the experiment to measure overconfidence bias. “Which of Argentina's 'Buenos Aires' or Turkey's 'Encara' are more populated as of 2015?”, "Which company ranks higher among McDonald's and Intel in the 2012 Fortune Global Business List?", “Which country has the longer average life expectancy in Australia and Denmark as of 2015?”, “As of 2009, which district has the highest population density between Seodaemun-gu and Yeongdeungpo-gu?”, “Which snack has a higher calorie content per 100 grams, Choco Heim or Kkokolkon?” Participants were asked to answer one question and then mark the additional question, "How confident are you that your answer to that question is correct?" in the numbers given at intervals of 50% to 100%. The degree of overconfidence was calculated by subtracting the percentage of correct answers (=number of correct questions/5) from the average of the confidence values that participants indicated they were confident of their answers. For example, if a participant's confidence value for five items is 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90%, respectively, the mean value of the confidence value is 70%. If this participant answered two of the five questions correctly, the percentage of correct answers would be 40% (=2/5), and overconfidence would be 30% (=70%-40%).


4. Research Results


Participants’ responses to the manipulation check question for social exclusion were averaged to form a manipulation check score (Wan, Xu, & Ding, 2014). As expected, participants who were rejected (vs. accepted) by the job preparation club felt more excluded (M=4.90 vs. M=2.42, t (92) =-13.134, p<.001), confirming the success of the manipulation of social exclusion.

As shown in Table 1 and Figure 1, there was no statistically significant difference in the percentage of correct answers between those who experienced social exclusion and those who did not experience social exclusion (Mex=30.95 vs. Min=29.23, t (92) =-.403, p>.1). On the other hand, the confidence value was found to be significantly different between the two groups (Mex=75.33 vs. Min=65.31, t (92) =-4.215, p<.00). Finally, the degree of overconfidence bias of the group who experienced social exclusion was higher than that of the group who did not experience social exclusion, and the difference was statistically significant (Mex=44.38 vs. Min=36.08, t (92) =-2.068, p<.05). These results support the hypothesis that the more social exclusion experiences, the more cognitive narrowing will occur and consequently more overconfidence bias will occur.







5. Conclusions


This study found that the incidence of overconfidence bias in the group that experienced social exclusion was higher than that in the group that did not experience social exclusion.

Consumers try to pursue rationality in the decision-making process, but for many reasons they often fail to make rational decisions and make irrational decisions and judgments. Many studies focusing on these irrational aspects of consumers have various opinions on the causes and characteristics of consumers making irrational decisions and judgments.

 A dual-process model of thinking explains many errors in people's rational thinking process by assuming two different human reasoning systems (Kahneman & Frederick, 2002; Stanovich & West, 2000). A dual-process model has a variety of aspects, but generally the System 1 (or heuristic system) tends to solve problems based on prior knowledge or beliefs, while the System 2 (or analytical system) allows inferences based on logical criteria. If there is not enough time, lack of motivation, or lack of cognitive resources for cognitive activities, the operation of System 1's can easily and quickly lead to human thinking. It can also be expected that System 1 will operate in the case of cognitive narrowing in which the cognitive scope of operation is consciously and unconsciously reduced, and that various cognitive errors will occur.

In this study, it was expected that cognitive error will occur when System 1 operates when cognitive narrowing occurs to overcome consumers' social exclusion experiences and negative emotions. In other words, this study focused on the experience of exclusion or rejection of consumers as well as the cognitive response strategy as a condition under which System 1 can operate. Previous studies have focused only on the fact that the negative emotions of consumers can cause cognitive narrowing, and this cognitive narrowing brings about various cognitive errors or cognitive distortions. This study was intended to anticipate and identify the mechanism by which error or bias would be in the operation of System 1. As shown in the results of this study, if the social exclusion experience causes cognitive narrowing and this causes cognitive errors through the operation of System 1, the occurrence of various cognitive biases in addition to the error of inferencing reasoning, social exclusion and cognitive biases. It seems to be explained by cognitive narrowing.

Unlike previous studies of overconfidence bias that are looking for causes of overconfidence bias in human cognitive error or in the desire to view oneself positively (Dunning, 2005; Fabricius & Buttgen, 2013; Gigerenzer, 2008; Kahneman & Tversky, 1996), this study presents the cognitive narrowing resulting from the social exclusion experience as the condition of overconfidence bias.

Therefore, this study can find theoretical implication in that it extends the concepts of evasive self-awareness, escape theory and cognitive narrowing used to explain addiction behavior such as compulsive buying to consumer's cognitive bias. In addition, the another theoretical implication is to identify the processes and mechanisms of individuals experiencing social exclusion through cognitive narrowing and dual process models.

In practice, this study suggests that it is necessary to anticipate the results of consumers' purchasing decisions and behaviors and to establish appropriate marketing communication strategies in consideration of the characteristics of target consumers. In other words, it is necessary to understand the social exclusion experience, the weakness in self-awareness, and the cognitive narrowing strategy as a countermeasure of target consumers. And marketers need to decide on marketing communication strategy by considering characteristics such as overconfidence bias that can appear in consumers' decision-making process and information processing process. For example, consumers with cognitive narrowing tend to be overly confident in their judgments and decisions than those who do not, so consumers with these characteristics will likely have confidence in information processing itself, regardless of the accuracy of information processing. Therefore, the strategy of increasing the amount and level of information provided to these types of consumers or limiting the amount and level of information processing on the contrary, or conveying the information through an easy-to-process media can be considered. In addition, consumers who show overconfidence bias due to cognitive narrowness are likely to show impulse buying and overconsumption by showing excessive optimism and unrealistic thinking about the future, so appropriate predictions and education will be needed in terms of consumer policy. In addition, as there is a possibility that the group with overconfidence bias may not easily switch brands, a strategy that leads them to loyal customers or a strategy that induces trials to seek variety will be appropriate.

Also, as in studies in which the type of heuristic affects mobile social commerce (Kim & Yang, 2019), overconfidence biases are likely to be more likely to appear in mobile or online purchasing situations and marketers need to establish communication strategies that take into account consumer purchasing conditions.

Finally, a strong social tolerance means that an individual has the ability to control himself in a way that preserves himself and promotes his or her own interests in the long run, including performing a smooth cognitive activity in a positive emotional state. Social inclusion is also an important issue related to the health and welfare of individuals as well as the entire society. According to a recent study of Black Friday consumption (Lee, Chun, & Choi, 2019), Korean consumers are more individualistic than American consumers. Therefore, various efforts will be needed to reduce social exclusion, discrimination and rejection to maintain a healthy social community as well as rational and sound consumer activities.

This study has limitations that the sample was collected only from college students, not consumers of various ages and occupations, and did not compare social exclusion and other measurement tools for cognitive narrowness. Finally, this study only examined the effects of social exclusion and cognitive narrowing on overconfidence bias, however future studies need to explore various types of cognitive errors.




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