Home Sex Life If incompetent people overestimate themselves, it’s because of a scientific effect

If incompetent people overestimate themselves, it’s because of a scientific effect


Psycho and sexo

Although the Dunning-Kruger effect tends to make people smile, it is of more concern in the workplace, or when it affects surgeons.

The ignorant affirms, the learned doubts, the wise thinks Said Aristotle. You have certainly heard someone speak in a discussion on a subject that they were not confident in at all. This attitude would not be an isolated act, and would in fact respond to a cognitive bias, distorting thought.

The Dunning-Kruger effect matches people who believe they are smarter and more capable than they actually are. Their incompetence is such that they do not have the necessary capacities to become aware of their own ignorance. This attitude has nothing to do with bragging, but it simply reflects a poor estimate of their own abilities, points out Think-Change.

Origin: Bank robber with lemon juice on his face

This term was coined in 1999 by two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. While watching television in 1995, they discovered the incredible story of McArthur Wheeler. This bank robber didn’t choose to cover his face with a balaclava or mask (like most robbers), but instead opted for lemon juice. The latter thought that just like invisible ink, lemon juice would make his face invisible. After being recognized on security cameras and arrested, the robber told authorities that he had tested his method beforehand. He would have taken a picture of himself with a polaroid, and his face was not visible; even if it should simply be a problem with the film, or improper handling.

The two psychologists decide to conduct a study to test their different hypotheses:

  • the incompetent person tends to overestimate their skill level
  • the incompetent person fails to recognize the competence of those who possess it
  • the incompetent person fails to realize their degree of incompetence
  • from a certain level of knowledge, the person questions himself and realizes that he does not know everything on the subject.

They begin to test Cornell University students in grammar, logic and humor. They then ask them to self-assess and to situate themselves in relation to the other participants. They found that people with poor results overestimated themselves. David Dunning explained for Forbes than “ the knowledge and intelligence needed to be successful at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at the task “. The Dunning-Kruger effect is also linked, and amplified, by a lack of perspective or external scrutiny of one’s own behavior.

Psychologists have also discovered that conversely, people who passed the test underestimated their abilities. One of the propositions of justification comes to say that if the test was easy for them, they surely think that it was it also for the others, and that therefore they are not better. Writer Charles Bukowski summed up this paradox by stating: “ The problem with the world is that smart people are full of doubts while the dumbest are full of confidence. “.

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In daily life

This phenomenon is not something abstract, and it is very present in our daily work, or in the world around us. Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist, floated the idea in 2015 for The Guardian that “smart” politicians were not preferable in this universe, and that it was better for a party leader to choose someone who would always be confident, even if he was at fault. The New York Times in 2017 also justified Trump’s ignorance of geopolitical issues by the mechanisms of the Dunning-Kruger effect (without naming it). Several sources also confirm that the US president does not read much (not even reports), believing that he already has enough knowledge.

This phenomenon is also found in the workplace, and would explain why ” many incompetent people have positions of responsibility “According to Think and act. Incompetent people overestimate themselves so much that thanks to it, and their charisma, they manage to fool the people around them. A 2006 study by the Harvard Business Review confirms this hypothesis, concluding that the more charisma a person has, the more interesting they become. Thus, when faced with a person who is overconfident, it is difficult for us to assess his real competence. This person will also tend to refuse training, believing himself to be more competent than the trainer. This kind of person also obtains promotions more easily in a company because they tend to take the merits of a collective work, not seeing the limits of their contribution, explains Think-Change. On the contrary, people who work more and question themselves will progress less on the social ladder and will stay in their usual position.

This phenomenon can also have much more serious consequences if it affects “ influential individuals Like surgeons for example.


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