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The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

About 90% of drivers think they’re above average.

We don’t have to be statisticians to see the math on that doesn’t work. Lots of people think they’re better at driving than they really are.

 

What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

This is just one example of a phenomenon called illusory superiority. A cognitive bias where people tend to overestimate how good they are.

 

Illusory superiority was identified as a form of cognitive bias by two psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger. And they’ve spent a career studying this phenomenon.

 

Today, illusory superiority is more widely known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. And it turns out the Dunning-Kruger effect shows up everywhere. Not just driving.

One study of high-tech firms discovered 32-42% of software engineers said their own skills ranked in the top 5% of their companies.

And 21% of Americans believe it’s ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ they’ll be millionaires within the next decade.

That’s a lot of overconfidence, and it gets worse. Not only do we feel more confident than we should. But we’re unaware of our overconfidence.

 

According to Dunning, “the first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.”

 

… so what can we do?

 

We can assume we’re below average. It’s not a bad assumption, because if we assume we’re below average, we listen more. Observe more. Value the opinions and observations of others more. We approach our interactions with more humility.

 

To assume we’re below average is to admit we’re still learning. If we have the courage to approach others with humility, we leave ourselves room to improve and grow.

 

And if we’re already above average, we’re no worse for assuming otherwise. We might learn something that makes us even better.

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