Most people overestimate their own expertise, and do not recognize their own incompetence.
It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect and has been demonstrated for people’s overestimates of their skills in grammar, emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, firearm care and safety, debating, and financial acumen.
Cornell’s Stav Atir and Emily Rosenzweig of Tulane asked volunteers if they were familiar with concepts like centripetal force and photon as well as fictitious terms including plates of parallax, ultra-lipid, and cholarine.
About 90% of participants claimed some knowledge of at least one of the nine fake concepts, and people who thought they were most knowledgeable also said they recognized more of the meaningless terms.
Atir and Rosenzweig concluded that poor performers lack insight about their lack of skill because they ”don’t know what they don’t know.”
Another study by University of California San Diego’s Elanor Williams, Justin Kruger of NYU, and Cornell’s David Dunning asked volunteers to complete a logical reasoning task, an intuitive physics problem, a financial acumen challenge.
Some participants achieved perfect scores and expressed confidence in their answers, yet those who achieved no correct answers expressed the same degree of confidence as the most able performers.
Both high and low achievers made judgments based on intuitive “rules,” so they felt confident based on having a clear rationale.
Williams’ team concluded, “Rule-based confidence is no guarantee of self-insight into performance.”
Another example is high confidence in financial acumen among people who filed for bankruptcy, suggesting that their confidence was not supported by their financial management skills.
More than 25,000 people rated their financial knowledge, completed the 2012 National Financial Capability Study, conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority with the U.S. Treasury.
Of these, 800 respondents said they filed bankruptcy within the previous two years.
Bankruptcy filers achieved financial knowledge scores in the lowest third of respondents, but they rated their knowledge more positively than financially-solvent respondents.
Nearly a quarter of the recently bankrupted respondents gave themselves the highest possible rating, whereas only 13 percent of other respondents were equally confident.
Even 80 professionally-credentialed physical scientists at top universities provided a number of inaccurate purpose-driven (“teleological”) explanations about “why things happen” in the natural world.
When these professional scientists provided explanations under time constraints, they were twice as likely to endorse inaccurate rationales, reported Boston University’s Deborah Kelemen, Joshua Rottman, and Rebecca Seston.
Scientists were equally likely as humanities scholars to endorse inaccurate arguments despite most physical scientists’ rejection of purpose-driven explanations for natural phenomena.
These results suggest that “teleological propositions are a default explanatory preference” among humans, and could explain their presence in myth and religion across cultures.
As a result, most people hold a positive view of their capabilities even when faced with contrary evidence.
However, some groups, such as women, may hold an unrealistically modest view of capabilities despite affirming feedback.
These biases in self assessment point to the importance of realistic recalibration of confidence, aligned with consensual feedback.
-*How do you minimize the risks of “Clueless Confidence”?
-*How can systematic underestimates of competence be reduced to increase “Realistic Confidence”?