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Self-Confidence and Social Interactions

Roland Benabou () and Jean Tirole

No 7585, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This paper studies the interactions between an individual's self esteem and his social environment in the workplace, at school, and in personal relationships. Because a person generally has only imperfect knowledge of his own abilities, people who derive benefits from his performance (parent, spouse, friend, teacher, manager, etc.) have incentives to manipulate his self confidence. We first study situations where an informed principal chooses an incentive structure, such as offering payments or rewards, delegating a task, or giving encouragement. We show that extrinsic rewards may have hidden costs as stressed by psychologists in that they undermine intrinsic motivation. As a result, they may be only weak reinforcers in the short run, and become negative reinforcers once withdrawn. Similarly, empowerment is likely to increase motivation, while offers of help may create a dependance. More generally, we identify when the hidden costs of rewards are a myth or a reality. We next consider situations where people criticize or downplay the performance of their spouse, child, colleague, or subordinate. We formalize ego bashing as reflecting battles for dominance or authority within the relationship. Finally, we turn to the self presentation strategies of privately informed agents. We study in particular how depressed individuals may engage in self-deprecation as a way of seeking leniency (a lowering of expectancies) or a helping hand' on various obligations.

JEL-codes: A12 C70 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-mic
Date: 2000-03
Note: CH
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Related works:
Working Paper: Self-Confidence and Social Interactions (2000)
Working Paper: SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SOCIAL INTERACTIONS (1999) Downloads
Working Paper: Self-Confidence and Social Interactions (1999)
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