Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

Kathryn Aegis (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 00:38:59 +0000

Robin Hanson:
>But why would feigning such an exaggerated overconfidence help you
>over a competitor?

Because the basic American ideal of political leadership is based on an
authoritarian model, hence the intractable positions of the two major
political parties and the blowhard style of debate in Congress. If you
will notice, it is only when the President calls for bipartisan action
that the two parties begin to negotiate on the same side of the table--he
provides the mechanism by which neither side loses face or authority.
(my major is in poli sci and I did some political campaign work here
in Washington, just so you know where I'm coming from on this).

>And if it did, why would the size of the stakes matter? Wouldn't the same
>strategy give an advantage when smaller stakes were at play?

Conflict theory states that the items that are less important to each
side lend themselves to multiple avenues of negotiation, whereas
parties tend to become entrenched on the bigger, or underlying issues
involving face, power, authority, or influence. It's definitely a
complex question, and one that literature is just beginning to appear


Kathryn Aegis