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The Dunning-Kruger effect

How the Dunning-Kruger effect works

As David Dunning and Justin Kruger conclude, “the misjudgment of the incompetent stems from a mistake about oneself, while the misjudgment of the highly competent stems from a mistake about others.

Approximate reading time: 2m 19s

 Why do people tend to overestimate or underestimate their skills?

You may have heard the popular saying, "The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while stupid people are full of confidence."

There is certainly someone around you who is considered smarter and more understanding than others. Someone who thinks he is very competent in a subject and has nothing more to learn, but in fact knows almost nothing.

Look at it from another angle - there are people who are really good at a field, but insist that they are not so experienced.
Why is this happening?

The Dunning-Kruger effectgives a psychological explanation of this question. It is a type of cognitive impairment in which people misjudge their cognitive abilities as greater than they actually are. The effect was described in a study by psychologists  David Dunning and Justin Kruger entitled "Unqualified and Unsuspecting - How Difficulties in Recognizing Your Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Esteem." Their investigation is linked to an interesting criminal case from 1995, when a 44-year-old man robbed two banks.

This is the criminal case of Mr McArthur Wheeler. The prisoner had read about some special properties of lemon juice and he interpreted them in a rather strange way. He suggested that since the chemical properties of lemon juice were somewhat similar to invisible ink, his face would appear invisible or blurred to security cameras.

Equipped with confidence (due to smearing his face with lemon juice), he bravely carried out the robberies in Pittsburgh without using disguise. However, the pictures clearly showed his face (obviously) and he was arrested the same day. The man was quite shocked that the police found him so soon.

In their report, Dunning and Kruger point out that sufferers of this cognitive impairment overestimate their skills or talents. In other words, they have no idea how incompetent they really are. People who perform poorly on a test realize that they have performed poorly, but not to that extent.

The two psychologists suggest that this type of overestimation is due in part to the fact that the unskilled suffer from a "double burden." Not only do they come to wrong conclusions and make unsuccessful choices, but their incompetence or lack of skills deprives them of the ability to even realize that they are not qualified.

That is, some incompetent people are too incompetent to realize their incompetence.

There is another interesting side - people who are more capable than the average person sometimes do not understand it. The more knowledgeable or experienced you are in a given field, the more you see the gaps and limitations in your knowledge. This is where the distrust of your own abilities arises.

An experienced computer programmer may think of something like:"Well, I know how to create this program, but I don't know many other important things about it that other people can understand, so I'm not sure if I'm that good."

If you run a company or department yourself, you can help your employees neutralize the Dunning-Kruger effect. Assess the competence of each of them, using personal observations and look at his job description. One of the most effective ways is to conduct training and tests that determine as accurately as possible which are the problem areas and the measures you need to take. It is important that everyone is aware of their capabilities.

We can organize tests for your employees to assess the real capabilities of each person. The tests can be created especially for you or we can make an electronic version of the test that you usually use in your work.

We also have ready-made tests that you can use immediately

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