Overclaiming knowledge predicts anti-establishment voting

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People often vote against the political establishment, as underscored by “Brexit” and the Trump election. The current contribution proposes that overclaiming one’s own knowledge predicts anti-establishment voting. We tested this idea in the context of a Dutch referendum on a European Union treaty with a clear pro- versus anti-establishment voting option. In a first wave (6 weeks before the referendum), Dutch citizens indicated their self-perceived understanding of the treaty, after which we tested their actual knowledge. We also measured participants’ general tendency to overclaim knowledge by assessing their familiarity with nonexisting stimuli. In a second wave shortly after the referendum, we asked participants what they had voted. Results revealed that increased self-perceived understanding yet decreased actual knowledge of the treaty, and general knowledge overclaiming, predicted an anti-establishment vote. Furthermore, these effects were most pronounced among right-wing extremists. We conclude that knowledge overclaiming predicts anti-establishment voting, particularly at the radical right.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-363
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Knowledge overclaiming
  • anti-establishment voting
  • Populism
  • Extremism
  • Radicalism
  • Voting behaviour
  • knowledge overclaiming
  • populism
  • overconfidence
  • radical politics


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