Genetic and Environmental Factors of Non-Ability-Based Confidence

Randi L. Vogt, Anqing Zheng, Daniel A. Briley, Margherita Malanchini, K. Paige Harden, Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-ability-based confidence is confidence in one’s ability that is not calibrated to actual ability. Here, we examine what psychological factors are associated with possessing more or less confidence relative to one’s ability and to what extent genetic and environmental processes contribute to these links. Using data from the Texas Twin Project (N = 1,588 participants, aged 7–15 years), we apply a latent variable residual approach to calculate non-ability-based confidence as self-rated confidence net of ability on standardized cognitive tests. Non-ability-based confidence was modestly heritable (9%–28%) and strongly positively correlated with the need for cognition, mastery goal orientation, grit, openness, and emotional stability. These correlations were partly mediated by genetic factors (57% of the association on average). This widespread pattern of associations between non-ability-based confidence and several other measures of thinking, feeling, and acting suggest that non-ability-based confidence can be conceptualized as a personality attribute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-746
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • behavior genetics
  • cognitive ability
  • confidence
  • non-ability-based confidence
  • overconfidence
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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