Posted on

The Cost of Overconfidence

People tend to believe that they are better than the average in many sectors of their lives, and usually in fields of knowledge and skills.

For example, in questions and surveys occasionally conducted, it emerged that even when people were 90% sure that their answer was correct, 50% of the cases proved to be wrong.

This bias is adopted usually by new drivers, but not just them. Most of them usually believe that they can cope with any situation given, which is not true, due to numerous factors. Some of them are the lack of experience, damaged roads, driving while drunk etc.

Overconfidence in Greece

A recent confirmation of this phenomenon in Greece –one more time in the driving behavior area- is the one that was traced through a mobile app called Pipoll.

In short, this free app works as following.

Users create an account, by providing their email and gender information. Then, the app uses multiple choice questions for various topics like society, politics, environment etc. In this way, it creates percentages based on the answers’ sum. After some days, after a topic is “closed”, anyone can log in and check the answer percentage and the number of people that responded.

From this data, someone can come to conclusions, based on the percentage differences an answer will have, but also in combination with other topic-related answers.

This is what we did.

On the following scheme, you can see that the biggest percentage (57%) of 425 users that answered that question, agreed that they would characterize Greek drivers as bad and insufficient.

This is the question:

Based on your experience, how would you characterize Greek drivers?

-Good (4%)

-Mediocre (37%)

-Bad and insufficient (57%)

-I do not know (1%)

Users started answering this question on 27th of February. But, what did users of the same app answered on 28th of February regarding their own driving ability?

How do you evaluate yourself as a driver?

-Good driver (53%)

-Mediocre driver (31%)

-Bad driver (3%)

-I do not drive (13%)

53% of the 613 users that answered the question defined themselves as good drivers.

That is a big contrast compared to the 4% of the Good Drivers that drive in the same country and streets, with a similar driving education. The results regarding the tag of Bad Drivers for themselves and for the rest of the users were equivalent.


Most of us tend to believe that we are better than the average regarding knowledge and skills, even though we tend to be wrong simultaneously.

Would we urge people to not have confidence?

Not the case. If it wasn’t for the overconfidence of some people, then there would be no beneficial actions. Nobody would start a new business activity in countries like Greece and we would probably never get out of the Crisis. Despite the treacherous times we live in, there are certain people or groups that try to make a difference in their country, but also a difference for their own country.

As long as they pay more attention on driving…

Share your opinion with us in the comments section and/or in private at

Chronis Lalas,

Behavioral Economist and Founder of Nudge Unit Greece.

~Explaining Behavioral Economics Simply~


Moore, D. A., & Healy, P. J. (2008). The trouble with overconfidence. Psychological Review, 115(2), 502-517.

Find out more and download Pipoll at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *