An Exploration of Overconfidence in Experiential Learning of Behavioral Skills among MBA Students

Robert C. Giambatista, J. Duane Hoover


Several problems cited by instructors in organizational behavior (OB) (Burke & Moore, 2003) may be attributable in part to overconfidence among students. One question of interest to ABSEL scholars is the extent to which experiential learning environments interact with this phenomenon. While overconfidence is a well-known OB construct, its effect on acquisition of interpersonal behavioral skills in experiential learning settings is not well understood. In a study of MBA students exposed to an experiential behaviorally-based class featuring assessment centers, we found that overconfidence was a pervasive phenomenon, that it was an even larger phenomenon in the most interpersonally-oriented skills (leadership and teamwork), and we found that overconfidence was reduced between assessment centers and when disconfirming feedback was provided. Finally, we found some evidence that overconfident individuals performed more variably on a subsequent assessment center measurement. Implications for experiential learning theory and educational practice are discussed.

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