I’m teaching introductory economics to Masters of Public Policy Students at ANU’s Crawford School this semester. As an opening exercise, I gave the students an ‘economic literacy’ test. At the end of the quiz, I asked them:
Looking around the classroom, what percentile of the relative distribution do you expect to end up? For example, 100 means you expect to top the class, 75 means you expect to outperform 75% of the class. 50 means you expect to be at the middle of the distribution, 25 means you expect to outperform 25% of the class. 1 means that you expect to be at the bottom of the distribution.
Here’s the distribution of their responses, with a horizontal red line denoting what the distribution would look like if everyone could perfectly forecast their final rank.
Out of curiosity, I randomly switched the ordering of the questions on the quiz, so half the students hit a hard question just before they had to predict their relative rank, and half the students hit an easy question just before they had to predict their relative rank. I had expected some ‘framing effect’, but found nothing significant â€“ suggesting that students’ priors about their relative rank aren’t that easy to budge.