Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dunning-Kruger effect

I have experienced this phenomenon many times, but I didn't realize it is an official effect:
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the perverse situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence: because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."
I have been on both sides of the effect...(here is a good video that explains it).


Shane Atwell said...

lol. pretty funny.

That coupled with subjectivism might help to explain why so many incompetents get promoted into management positions in large companies. "Well, he seems to know what he's talking about..."

kelleyn said...

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that phenomenon in a long time and it really explains a lot. Reminds me of Phillip Armour's Orders of Ignorance:

And correspondingly, Kirkpatrick's Levels of Competence:

Shane Pleasance said...

Aww come on, we have all been there ourselves from time to time. Be it our driving, our relationships, our view of self...
Ok, I am generalizing this out. I have to frequently place myself on this learning matrix to see where I might be at any time. I become blissfully unaware of my own incompetence.
It is a very useful tool when in a management position and you are required to performance manage or educate, and you come across someone who has been doing the job for years and 'knows it like the back of their hand', and yet are dangerously incompetent. So they are unconsciously incompetent. Give me consciously incompetent ANYTIME.

Doug Reich said...


Welcome aboard! Glad to have you.

I have been consciously aware of this effect for a long time. I have definitely been on both sides.

Particularly in intellectual matters, I find it's an exception when someone comes into a discussion and says "I really don't know a lot about that...what do you think?" Consider celebrity activists...