What to blame? Self-serving attribution bias with multi-dimensional uncertainty

Alexander Coutts*, Leonie Gerhards, Zahra Murad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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People often receive feedback influenced by external factors, yet little is known about how this affects self-serving biases. Our theoretical model explores how multi-dimensional uncertainty allows additional degrees of freedom for self-serving bias. In our Primary experiment, feedback combining an individual’s ability and a teammate’s ability leads to biased belief updating. However, in a Follow-up with a random fundamental replacing the teammate, unbiased updating occurs. A Validation experiment shows belief distortion is greater when outcomes originate from human actions. Overall, our experiments highlight how multi-dimensional environments can enable self-serving biases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Journal
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 5 Mar 2024


  • Motivated beliefs
  • multi-dimensional
  • belief updating
  • overconfidence

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