The More Confident You Are, The More Likely You’ll Be Successful

A new paper has added to the body of evidence of the role of confidence in decreasing social mobility.

Family Background, Self-Confidence and Economic Outcomes‘ by Antonio Filippin and Marco Paccagnella says that:

Even small differences in initial confidence can result in diverging patterns of human capital accumulation between otherwise identical individuals.

As long as initial differences in the level of self-confidence are correlated with the socioeconomic background…self-confidence turns out to be a channel through which education and earnings inequalities are transmitted across generations.

Filippin and Paccagnella say that the over-confident are more likely to stick with a subject during the early steep phase of the learning curve – believing that “I can master this if only I apply myself” – whereas the under-confident are likely to give up, thinking the material is too difficult for him/her.

An over-confident student is more likely to chose subjects which will get them into top universities, whereas the less confident will choose subjects which disqualify them.

In June, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said that “self-confidence” is a key factor in whether pupils from poorer backgrounds succeed.

Other research has shown that overconfident people are more likely to choose professions where risk can equal reward, such as management, law journalism or politics. The less confident, because they will under-estimated their chances, would prefer jobs which yield less skewed rewards.

Overconfidence is perceived as actual ability, these people send out more “competence cues”; they talk louder, have more confidence in their opinions and use more emphatic gestures, all of which is wrongly interpreted as signs of actual ability.

The overconfident job candidate is thus more likely to get the job than the more rational one. The under-confident can also been manipulated. British business writer ‘Flip Chart Fairy Tales’ says:

However much we may despise social hierarchy and claim that we are beyond all of that now, the social conditioning associated with it runs deep. True, you get some very confident working class people and some awkward and diffident posh ones. The chances are, though, that if you meet someone who oozes that breezy effortless confidence, he or she probably went to one of the more exclusive [private] schools.

What this research is finding is that what we call ‘merit’ — academic achievement or career success — in many cases may in fact come from an overconfidence which is helped along by the social position someone is born into.

Filippin and Paccagnella say that:

“Our theory suggests that cognitive tests should take place as early as possible, in order to avoid that systematic differences in self-confidence among equally talented people lead to the emergence of gaps in the accumulation of human capital.”

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9 Ideas for Congress to Address the 99 Percent

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Parents Or Teachers? Who’s More Important?

Photo from ^riza^ via flickr


Tim Paich
Tim P5 years ago

Most petitions don't reach enough signatures as there could be a lack of confidence and faith. I have 2 petitions below. The ones on gas prices could take millions of signatures. They could take time for success. There are a bunch on gas prices and recession out there. Here are links below to my groups and my petition to sign. They are not whining. I am into the most wrongs to be righted.

Reshaping the World

The reshaping the world is on recession and other things affecting us and taking a stand against greed.

Better Public Transportation and Deleted Scenes Released in Movies

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Marlene C.
Marlene C6 years ago

Confident and hopefully smart enough to know what one doesn't know !

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

Disagree. I was always going to be great! No matter what happened! I just feel sorry for all those mice' out there. If you don't say what you want, no one will know what you want. Humility was made up by the church so we would relinquish our money to them easier.
I know confidence can intimidate some people, but thats OK, I need people to work under me as well as beside me, and those 'hiders' can do a job as good as, if not better! than some confident people,'s just that no one ever notices them.

Joshua Bigley
Joshua Bigley6 years ago

there is a difference between confidence and arrogance--nobody feels comfortable around person who behaves like a wounded abused puppy, eyes downcast. If the task is introverted I will have some confidence in this person if ability or merit is evident. But, business, leadership, progress, revolution, politics, academics, sport--this requires a degree of confidence. How many people never try a thing--art, love, kinky sex--because they fear rejection, embarrassment, shame, failure?

What is success? Wealth? Power? Prestige? or fulfillment and happiness? our commercial culture is trivial and shallow so meaningless things are important and sustainability, morality, empathy, education--these things are belittled.

J C Bro
J C Brou6 years ago

how do politicians fit into this?

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence6 years ago

I don't agree....Many confident people I know come off as cocky and arrogant and do theirselves more harm!

Nancy Black
Nancy Black6 years ago

I don't know if it is over confidence, but I do believe if you are confident in your abilities, you can achieve almost anything. It is logical. If you doubt, you are afraid to try; if you are afraid to try; you won't meet success. If you don't see the possibility of failure, you keep on "keeping on" until you succeed. I was a teacher for over thirty-five years, I have two daughters, and two grandsons; this is what I teach them. It worked for my daughters. One is a environmental planner for the state of Kansas; the other is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the auto-immune system at Mayo. I also noticed the philosophy worked for the majority of my students. If you don't accept failure, you will not encounter it.

Richard Zane Smith

I think this is VERY True!
it was my "over-confidence"in my own talents and abilities that actually made me pay for school entirely of my own labor as a 20 year old in the 70's,house painting,making leather items and pottery, to live on $35 a month for groceries,scrounging, to TAKE education with with both hands in art school to be both a Junior and a Senior in one year(without benefits of a "silly degree" and to the chagrin of my instructors!) and to keep at it after i left school, even when i was NO salesperson. I believed in what i was doing ,and i would do it(and did do it) homeless and housed. ONE almost has to be cock-sure of ones abilities and have an insatiable appetite to ALWAYS ALWAYS learn MORE!
JOY CURIOSITY ENERGY DETERMINED EFFORT = a good life...and THAT IS SUCCESS! a full time artist for 30 years

Susan Jacobs
Susan Jacobs6 years ago

Highly competent people can [many do] self-sabotage due to subconscious memories created in early childhood. One's temperament stirs their reactions, their responses. A pessimistic child may wilt into victim-mentality, an optimist child may find speed-bumps fun - and an oppositional-defiant child may break every mold (if only to prove they can). Any human's unique experiences, early on, are like a foundation's cornerstones - these "support" one's "constructs" of subsequent events. While some adults realize confidence levels often stem from subconscious memories, it can be daunting to explore what, when, how theirs might support [or thwart?] self-empowerment.

The more we learn how, and how early, environs and experiences affect childhood development we'll see more children with more confident adults. Arrogance is often a superiority complex, an overcompensation, to mask how unworthy, inadequate, insecure and/or inferior one really feels.

As for success, I view one's actual joy-quotient as a reliable measure of their personal success.