I often came across not so prepared people who combine lack of competence with a good deal of overconfidence.
One day I asked myself:
These questions remained unanswered until I learned about the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Want to know what it is?
I will explain it right now with a story.
Mc Arthur Wheeler could not go unnoticed; 45 years old, 160 cm, 120 kg, he was easily recognized by witnesses as the responsible for two daylight robberies in Pittsburgh.
Moreover, the security cameras showed him uncovered, with a gun in his hand.
When he was arrested he was amazed: ” I was covered in lemon juice,” he told the detectives.
Wheeler had prepared himself carefully, covering his face with lemon juice in the belief that it would grant him invisibility.
“The lemon juice burned my face and eyes, I could hardly see,” he stated to the detectives.
During the robbery preparation, he had taken a selfie with a Polaroid camera to check that everything was working and he wasn’t in the picture; he had missed the shot, but he was sure that the lemon juice had made him invisible.
David Dunning, professor of social psychology at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), read about it in the 1996 World Almanac.
The psychologist thought that if Wheeler was too stupid to be a robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to realize he was too stupid to be a robber.
Dunning then wondered whether it would be possible to measure the level of competence each person believes he/she has by comparing it to the actual competence needed to tackle a task.
Over the next few weeks, he organized a research project with one of his undergraduates, Justin Kruger, which led to results that confirmed what he had intuited.
David Dunning and Justin Kruger gave their name to a cognitive bias that leads to some interesting conclusions:
The two psychologists, therefore, drew the conclusion that
The chart at the top of the page is typical of the Dunning-Kruger effect:
Is all this genuinely new? Not really.
Here are quotes from some prominent intellectuals who had long dealt with the subject:
The merit of David Dunning and Justin Kruger is to have given a quantitative basis to this cognitive bias and to have contributed to its diffusion: to learn more about it you can read the original study.
Now, let’s get to the point: what I learnt from the Dunning-Kruger effect?
A few things, that changed substantially my way to approach people and their knowledge:
What do you think about this?
Can this post change the way you deal with arrogant people?