Driving in Lake Wobegon

A study found that most drivers consider themselves above average, but I can’t find the study. Help!

I recall seeing a wonderful study in which people were asked to numerically estimate the risks faced by “the average driver” and the driving risks the respondents themselves faced. As I recall, something like 90% thought that their own risks were below the risks faced by “the average driver,” suggesting that for some purposes we all live in Lake Wobegon. [Of course, the distinction between the median and the mean has some work to do here: if driving risks are highly concentrated, then it might be the case that the median driver was at much less than “average” (mean) risk.]

Can any kind reader point me to the study in question, or other empirical studies of optimistic biases? If so, please send an email to [my last name] [“at” sign] [four letter acronym for University California Los Angeles] [dot] [three-letter trailer for an EDUcational institution].

Please don’t use the “contact” button to the right; after receiving several thousand spam messages one day, I just gave up. Doesn’t spamming make it obvious that capital punishment is sometimes not only justified but morally required?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com