Jordan Lejuwaan • • 2 min read
Dunning-Kruger Effect: Why You Doubt Your Strengths
Bertrand Russel once said, “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
With High Existence being the the blog that it is, I think I can safely assume that the majority of you belong to the latter group. So I figured I would tell you why you tend to doubt your strengths so illogically despite being an intelligent, rational person.
It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a cognitive bias in which “people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.”
For all of you smarties currently doubting your ability to comprehend this effect, it means that competent people doubt their abilities while incompetent people overestimate their abilities.
The intelligent falsely assume that others have equal understanding, which is why being smart, beautiful or talented can actually result in lower self-confidence. The outcome of all of this is less fortunate people feeling more confident about their abilities than those who actually excel in those areas. Or as Charles Darwin put it, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Here’s a good real world example. There are two guys in a bar, both looking at the same girl. The smarter guy doubts his ability to talk to women despite his impressive wordsmithing skills. Meanwhile the less gifted guy doesn’t give a second thought to his ability and walks straight over to the girl. Ignorance wins out.
So what can you do with this knowledge as an intelligent person? You must outwit the Dunning-Kruger Effect! Here are the rules:
1) Do not assume that others around you have the same level of competence
Dunning and Kruger concluded that, “the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.” The simple knowledge that you have a savvy that others lack (as opposed to assuming everyone else has it) would be a huge confidence-booster.
2) Be confident in the abilities that you LOGICALLY know you have some level of mastery over
Intelligent people over-think everything, and usually those thoughts are more critical than uplifting (and less accurate). Instead, accept logically that you are awesome at ___________ and don’t think anymore about it. More analyzation will only lead to a decrease in confidence.
3) Be confident in the areas that you suck at as well
Learn a lesson from the ignorant and overestimate your abilities in general. Confidence can easily take the place of actual skill according this the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Confidence is #1, especially if all of the skilled people around you are underestimating their abilities in said field.
Instead of being a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect, why not take advantage of it?
P.S. The very ironic thing about this article is that ignorant people who overestimate their competence will also think that I am addressing them. So which one are you, the smarty who uses this article to his/her advantage OR the poster boy for ‘ignorance is bliss?’ Some food for thought!