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Limited Self-Knowledge and Survey Response Behavior

Armin Falk, Thomas Neuber () and Philipp Strack ()

CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series from University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany

Abstract: We study response behavior in surveys and show how the explanatory power of selfreports can be improved. First, we develop a choice model of survey response behavior under the assumption that the respondent has imperfect self-knowledge about her individual characteristics. In panel data, the model predicts that the variance in responses for different characteristics increases in self-knowledge and that the variance for a given characteristic over time is non-monotonic in self-knowledge. Importantly, the ratio of these variances identifies an individual’s level of self-knowledge, i.e., the latter can be inferred from observed response patterns. Second, we develop a consistent and unbiased estimator for self-knowledge based on the model. Third, we run an experiment to test the model’s main predictions in a context where the researcher knows the true underlying characteristics. The data confirm the model’s predictions as well as the estimator’s validity. Finally, we turn to a large panel data set, estimate individual levels of self-knowledge, and show that accounting for differences in self-knowledge significantly increases the explanatory power of regression models. Using a median split in self-knowledge and regressing risky behaviors on self-reported risk attitudes, we find that the R2 can be multiple times larger for above- than below-median subjects. Similarly, gender differences in risk attitudes are considerably larger when restricting samples to subjects with high self-knowledge. These examples illustrate how using the estimator may improve inference from survey data.

Keywords: survey research; rational inattention; lab experiment; non-cognitive skills; preferences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C83 C91 D83 D91 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 58
Date: 2021-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-knm
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (4)

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Related works:
Working Paper: Limited Self-Knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Limited Self-Knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Limited Self-knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Limited Self-knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Limited Self-knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Limited Self-Knowledge and Survey Response Behavior (2021) Downloads
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