Strategically Overconfident (To a Fault): How Self-Promotion Motivates Advisor Confidence

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6 Scopus citations


Unlike judgments made in private, advice contexts invoke strategic social concerns that might increase overconfidence in advice. Many scholars have assumed that overconfident advice emerges as an adaptive response to advice seekers’ preference for confident advice and failure to punish overconfidence. However, another possibility is that advisors robustly display overconfidence as a self-promotion tactic—even when it is punished by others. Across four experiments and a survey of advice professionals, the current research finds support for this account. First, it shows that advisors express more overconfidence than private decision-makers. This pattern held even after advice recipients punished advisors for their overconfidence. Second, it identifies the underlying motivations of advisors’ overconfidence. Advisors’ overconfidence was not driven by self-deception or a sincere desire to be helpful. Instead, it reflected strategic self-promotion. Relative to the overconfidence revealed by their private beliefs, advisors purposely increased their overconfidence while broadcasting judgments when (a) it was salient that others would assess their competence and (b) looking competent served their self-interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


  • Accountability
  • Advice giving
  • Confidence
  • Overconfidence
  • Self-promotion


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