Students from political sciences are, usually, overconfident

Students in a political discussion (Image Source:
Students in a political discussion (Image Source:

Main Point:

Students of political sciences show higher level of overconfidence, whereas students from humanities are on the inverse side.

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Study Further:

In a study, researchers from the University of St. Gallen and the University of Zurich in Switzerland surveyed over 700 first-year students. They also asked them to go through various experiments during a session lasting about an hour and a half. In the experiments, there was a simple task of guessing the year for five historical events. For example, participants of the study were asked about the time of the first flight of the supersonic jet Concorde and the reactor accident in Chernobyl. Participants were given higher marks, if their guess was closer to the actual date of events. Finally, researchers instructed them to rank their performance as compared to their peers. Researchers measured the overconfidence of participants by taking the difference between the ranks given by participants themselves and their actual ranks.

Researchers found that most overconfident students (who overestimated their rankings) were from political sciences. Students from law, business administration, economics, and other social sciences were also overconfident but they were still very less overconfident as compared to the students from political sciences. On the other hand, students from humanities showed significantly lower confidence (as shown by their underestimations). Researchers also found that males were significantly overconfident as compared to female students.

Confidence, and subjects of students and their gender (Source: PLoS ONE/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145126.g001)
Confidence, and subjects of students and their gender (Source: PLoS ONE/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145126.g001)

“This may have important implications for subsequent earnings and professions students select themselves in,” researchers wrote in the paper.


Schulz, J., & Thöni, C. (2016). Overconfidence and Career Choice PLOS ONE, 11 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145126

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.