The Dunning-Kruger effect: ignorance is daring

The Dunning-Kruger effect: ignorance is daring

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive biaswhich makes the least competent people in a given field overestimate their abilities. The most competent people, they underestimate them. It is as if some ignorant people thought they knew everything, whereas the most learned would consider themselves ignorant.

In this way, those who are victims of this bias have an illusion of superiority when assessing their competence as being above average.They also tend to underestimate the most competent people.

This effect has been demonstrated in a study published in 1999 by Dunning and Justin Kruger, two researchers from the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. Now, one point is quite curious: it seems that the Dunning-Kruger effectexists only in Western societies.In trying to replicate it in Asia, the researchers saw that the opposite was happening.

Why does the Dunning-Kruger effect occur?

According to Dunning-Kruger's theory, the explanation for this phenomenon is that incompetent people do not have precisely the necessary skills to distinguish themselves from those who have more abilities.People who lack knowledge or know how to cope are often unaware of it.This lack of awareness is attributed to a deficit in meta-cognitive skills.

In other words, the incompetence that drives them to make bad decisionsis the same as that which deprives them of the ability to recognize this same skill.These people are unable to recognize it, both in themselves and in others. In fact, there is a mass of intellectually mediocre people who earn their living by making us believe that they are geniuses and that they are full of charisma. Generally, they do it because we are attracted to that kind of people.

"An intellectual is usually someone who does not exactly distinguish himself by his intelligence," he asserted, "he attributes himself this qualifier to compensate for the natural impotence of which he feels his abilities are affected. is as old and as sure as the saying 'Tell me what you boast of and I will tell you what you miss' It is daily bread The incompetent always presents himself as an expert, the cruel as pitiful, the to sin as a devotee, the usurer as a benefactor, the arrogant as humble, the vulgar as distinguished and the stupid as intellectual. "

-Carlos Ruiz Zafón-

Nevertheless, the results of the studies of Kruger and Dunning can have several interpretations. But the effect is often the following. Of all the people who perform a concrete task,those with the least capacity believe they are prepared to do it.And, on the contrary, the best ones tend to believe less in them.

The reason for the success of the incompetent

We find the explanation of the success of these people in a captivating idea known as the belief in a just world. According to the latter,the results we get in life are always earned.People who think in this way believe that everyone has a specific job because it fits their merits. Therefore, even if they do not look like it, "they must have something".

The incompetent people think that they are superior to what they really are. But, in general, they do not believe themselves as good as those who really are. It is important to point out thatDunning and Kruger have never said that the incompetent think they are better than the competent ones.They simply believe they are better than they are and that is what they proclaim.

There is a big difference between how incompetent people perceive their performance and actual performance. This discrepancy is much lower for extremely competent people,which implies a serious problem for both groups.

For people who are really not very skilled, the Dunning-Kruger effect prevents any improvement. If they do not recognize their mistakes, they will never be able to overcome them. On the contrary, for those who are already talented, this bias prevents them from shining as much as possible.Because self-confidence is fundamental to success in life.

Examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect

If, for example, you are not very good at languages, you may have trouble realizing it. This happens becausethe skills you will need to distinguish someone who is good from someone who is not good are precisely the ones you miss.If you can not hear the difference between two distinct phonemes, how can you know who is able to pronounce them as a native or not? If you only understand a few words from a foreign language, how can you evaluate the extent of your own vocabulary compared to that of other people?

You may have already heard someone talk about something she does not know anything about.Those who really know things tend to stay silent.This is visible and even at the media level. People tend to pay more attention to those who trust them, even if they are wrong.


Simplified to the extreme, the Dunning-Kruger theory can be understood as follows: while the ignorant believe themselves to be gifted, those who are really considered themselves incompetent.

Overcoming this effect is certainly fundamental to our society. Therefore, if at some point you think you know a truth,do not be silentIt is necessary that learned people begin to have more confidence in themselves.

Smart people often lack confidence in themselves

Did you know that the smartest people, instead of having great social success, are those who underestimate themselves the most? Learn more
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