The Dunning-Kruger effect

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Few things are more annoying than people who confidently offer incompetent advice. These are individuals who know without a shred of the doubt how to lead a country, how to overcome depression, how to create your own business, despite having absolutely no knowledge or experience in these fields. We have all encountered this startling link between incompetence and confidence in one’s abilities. But why does it occur?

What is it?

In psychology, there is a name for it: the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a cognitive bias – a recurring pattern of irrational thinking that creates blind spots in our cognitive process. In this case, the bias is that people with little ability feel they have a high level of skills and competence! Mostly, their lack of knowledge makes it difficult for the person to estimate their ability, so they tend to feel way too confident about their abilities.

In other words. 

The phenomenon in which the incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence 

– David Brooks  New York Times 

Who is affected?

The Dunning-Kruger effect can affect everyone. A competent physicist might widely overestimate her capacity to run a business, for instance. What’s more, she might feel confident due to her prowess in her field. The Dunning-Kruger effect leads to many failed initiatives, a lot of bad advice, and tons of frustration, but it’s important to remember that we are all prone to cognitive biases.

Image by entrepreneur.com

The flip side

The other side of the Dunning-Kruger coin is that the professionals who are, in fact, safe and competent, tend to do two things: they underestimate their abilities, and they see the tasks they can do as easily accomplished by others. So, people who know what they are doing tend to be less confident in their skills because of their knowledge of the field and other people’s accomplishments.

Its hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s dam near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.

-Bill Murray-

The over self-confidence

This leads to a situation where the incompetent has a lot of confidence, while the competent lack it. In many circumstances, this means that the people with fewer skills might move forward with a degree confidence that can be convincing to others. In the workplace, in problem-solving, and in other situations where decisions need to be made, it’s important to keep this in mind. A person’s overconfidence is not always justified.


What’s the takeaway? First, people who are less competent tend to overestimate themselves, while actual professionals underestimate themselves and the difficulty of the tasks they do. Secondly, it shows that little doubt in yourself can be a good thing – it can mean you have a more realistic view of your chosen field and enough expertise to know your limits.


Watch, the video we chose about Dunning-Kruger effect


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Feature Image – The People Speak!

Kostas Deroukakis
Love to search, to try, to give, to learn. Knowledge, is the road for this achievement
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