Friday, November 12, 2010

Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence

Confucius say, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance"; however, apparently, insight into one's own limitations is lacking to say the least. People tend to be blissfully unaware of their own incompetence.

This lack of awareness arises because poor performers are doubly cursed: Their lack of skill deprives them not only of the ability to produce correct responses, but also of the expertise necessary to surmise that they are not producing them.
On the other hand, top performers tend to underestimate their competence. Researchers found that people's performance estimates have very little to do with objective performance and much more to do with preconceived beliefs.
People’s estimates of their performance arise, at least in part, from a top-down approach. People start with their preconceived beliefs about their skill (e.g., “I am good at logical reasoning”) and use those beliefs to estimate how well they are doing on any specific test. This strategy at first seems to be a good one—people who believe they have logical reasoning skill should have some basis for that claim—except for one fly in the ointment. People’s impressions of their intellectual and social skills often correlate only modestly, and sometimes not at all, with measures of their actual performance (Falchikov & Boud, 1989). Indeed, and perhaps more important, people just tend to hold overinflated views of their skills that cannot be justified by their objective performance (Dunning, Meyerowitz, & Holzberg, 1989; Weinstein, 1980). Therefore, preconceived notions of skill can lead people to err in their performance estimates.
This inability to recognize one's own deficiencies might explain some people's lack of effort in trying to improve their skills, or performance. It also might explain American Idol.

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