NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Michael J. Sinkey

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Working Papers

May 2012Identifying Confirmatory Bias in the Field: Evidence from a Poll of Experts
with Rodney J. Andrews, Trevon D. Logan: w18064
Laboratory experiments have established the existence of cognitive biases, but their explanatory power in real-world economic settings has been difficult to measure. We estimate the extent of a cognitive bias, confirmatory bias, among experts in a real-world environment. In the Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll expert pollsters are tasked with assessing team quality, and their beliefs are treated week-to-week with game results that serve as signals about an individual team's quality. We exploit the variation provided by actual game results relative to market expectations to develop a novel regression-discontinuity approach to identify confirmatory bias in this real-world setting. We construct a unique personally-assembled dataset that matches more than twenty years of individua...

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