Dunning Kruger Effect – Not Knowing Your Circle Of Competence

If you could read 3 papers this year this would be one of them!

Miguel’s Solution: Develop a thick skin (not by pleasing others or listening to their praises).  Seek confidants that will shoot down your ideas and will tell you the truth. Develop a close group of mentors and friends that provide you with perspective. Always seek immediate feedback from more talented people and ask them to tell you what sucks first. Lastly, surround yourself with people much better than you —never satisfice on this last principle.

For investors: always assume a guy like Warren Buffett is opposite your trade! I know very sharp investors whom I’d prefer not to trade with (meaning on the opposite side of the fence). I always assume there’s at least 5 of these people for every company I research.

Abstract (Via Dunning & Kruger)

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The au-thors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overes-timated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacogni-tive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of partici-pants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

Fascinating Introduction (via Dunning & Kruger)

Perhaps more controversial is the third point, the one that is the focus of this article. We argue that when peo-ple are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual bur-den: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the mistaken impression that they are doing just fine. As Miller (1993) perceptively observed in the quote that opens this article, and as Charles Dar-win (1871) sagely noted over a century ago, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” (p. 3).

In essence, we argue that the skills that engender com-petence in a particular domain are often the very same skills necessary to evaluate competence in that do-main-one’s own or anyone else’s. Because of this, in-competent individuals lack what cognitive psychologists variously term metacognition (Everson & Tobias, 1998),

Puzzling results (via Dunning & Kruger)

One puzzling aspect of our results is how the incompe-tent fail, through life experience, to learn that they are unskilled. This is not a new puzzle. Sullivan, in 1953, marveled at “the failure of learning which has left their capacity for fantastic, self-centered delusions so utterly unaffected by a life-long history of educative events” (p. 80). With that observation in mind, it is striking that our student participants overestimated their standing on aca-demically oriented tests as familiar to them as grammar and logical reasoning. Although our analysis suggests that incompetent individuals are unable to spot their poor performances themselves, one would have thought nega-tive feedback would have been inevitable at some point in their academic career. So why had they not learned?

One reason is that people seldom receive negative feedback about their skills and abilities from others in everyday life (Blumberg, 1972; Darley & Fazio, 1980; Goffman, 1955; Matlin & Stang, 1978; Tesser & Rosen, 1975). Even young children are familiar with the notion that “if you do not have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Conclusion (via Dunning & Kruger)

We propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make re-grettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Although we feel we have done a competent job in making a strong case for this analysis, studying it empirically, and drawing out relevant impli-cations, our thesis leaves us with one haunting worry that we cannot vanquish. That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication. Let us assure our readers that to the ex-tent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have com-mitted knowingly.

Click Here To Read:  Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

12. May 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Wisdom Seeking | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *