Skip to comments.Unskilled and Unaware of it
Posted on 10/17/2002 6:53:35 AM PDT by gridlock
Unskilled and Unaware of It:
How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own
Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments
Justin Kruger and David Dunning
Department of Psychology Cornell University
People tend to hold overly favorable views of their
abilities in many social and intellectual domains.
The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs,
in part, because people who are unskilled in these
domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people
reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices,
but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive
ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors
found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile
on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly
overestimated their test performance and ability.
Although their test scores put them in the 12th
percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.
Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits
in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish
accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the
skills of participants, and thus increasing their
metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the
limitations of their abilities.
It is one of the essential features of such incompetence
that the person so afflicted is incapable of knowing
that he is incompetent. To have such knowledge would
already be to remedy a good portion of the offense.
(Miller, 1993 , p. 4)
In 1995, McArthur Wheeler walked into two Pittsburgh banks and robbed them in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He was arrested later that night, less than an hour after videotapes of him taken from surveillance cameras were broadcast on the 11 o'clock news. When police later showed him the surveillance tapes, Mr. Wheeler stared in incredulity. "But I wore the juice," he mumbled. Apparently, Mr. Wheeler was under the impression that rubbing one's face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to videotape cameras ( Fuocco, 1996 ).
We bring up the unfortunate affairs of Mr. Wheeler to make three points. The first two are noncontroversial. First, in many domains in life, success and satisfaction depend on knowledge, wisdom, or savvy in knowing which rules to follow and which strategies to pursue. This is true not only for committing crimes, but also for many tasks in the social and intellectual domains, such as promoting effective leadership, raising children, constructing a solid logical argument, or designing a rigorous psychological study. Second, people differ widely in the knowledge and strategies they apply in these domains ( Dunning, Meyerowitz, & Holzberg, 1989 ; Dunning, Perie, & Story, 1991 ; Story & Dunning, 1998 ), with varying levels of success. Some of the knowledge and theories that people apply to their actions are sound and meet with favorable results. Others, like the lemon juice hypothesis of McArthur Wheeler, are imperfect at best and wrong-headed, incompetent, or dysfunctional at worst.
Perhaps more controversial is the third point, the one that is the focus of this article. We argue that when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the mistaken impression that they are doing just fine. As Miller (1993) perceptively observed in the quote that opens this article, and as Charles Darwin (1871) sagely noted over a century ago, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" (p. 3).
(Excerpt) Read more at apa.org ...
Found this linked over at AndrewSullivan.com. Great stuff.
LOL!!!! Great stuff, Exp89. Thanks for the ping.
Looks like I got me a new line to use whenever I make a mistake, "But I was wearin' the juice!" :)
Don't know and know that you don't know.
Don't know and don't know that you don't know.
Apparently, there are a lot of persons in the last category.
Exhibit A: Madelaine Albright
I get this. Its similar to a wise man understanding that he is really not all that wise.
For the record, what is stupidty?
Is stupid a condition that can be remedied or is it a congenital condition that cannot be corrected with education?
The old Greek said it first.
Umm, jack who?
Or did you hear the story of the junkies caught sharing a second-hand syringe? "Don't worry" they replied "we're all wearing condoms."
Anyway, timely topic, given the last 10 years'"self esteem" psychology.
Umm...you do know that 20 = XX?
Education reinforces stupidity.
And this is my fear with regard to the performance of our education system, and how those shortcomings are intertwined with other negative changes in our society. We have gone from an auditory to a visual society; replacing knowledge and reasoning skills with mind numbing amusement (take a moment and look up amusement).
Our leaders are forced to pander to our ignorance as a society [i.e.: incompetence] in order to take and hold office. Yet the ability to see that we are on a self-fueled power dive eludes the ever growing liberal ranks, as well as some "conservatives" who don't know why they are so.
It is well recorded. "Stupid is as stupid does."
Ahhh, but there is a vast difference between ignorance and stupidity.
In particular, work on overconfidence has shown that people are more miscalibrated when they face difficult tasks, ones for which they fail to possess the requisite knowledge, than they are for easy tasks, ones for which they do possess that knowledge ( Lichtenstein & Fischhoff, 1977 ). Our work replicates this point not by looking at properties of the task but at properties of the person. Whether the task is difficult because of the nature of the task or because the person is unskilled, the end result is a large degree of overconfidence.
The worst thing in the work place is to work with someone like this. They don't know squat about the job, but think they do. One of my favorite sayings is that the more I learn about something, the more I realize how little I really know about it.
"He who is unaware of his ignorance will only be confused by his knowledge."
That includes an awful lot of people.
From a democrat think tank, no doubt.....
Guess I'm too incompetent to see the seriousness in this article.
Hey, I just quote the quotes. Ask von Schiller.
Whatever it is, there is an inexhaustable supply.
Ignorance can be corrected by education. Stupidity, on the other hand--as I view it--is incorrigible.
Ignorance does not equal stupidity. One can be highly-educated and utterly stupid. I suspect that here on FR we could compile a long list of names of those who qualify.
This reminds me of a true story I heard (well, it could be an urban legend, never can tell anymore).
A bank robber in the Bay area went into a particular bank, say a Bank of America branch, and proceeded to write a holdup note on a bank slip. Well, the line was too long so he decided to go to the bank across the street, a First Interstate branch, to rob it instead. When the teller received the note from him, she cooly explained to him that she couldn't accept a holdup note written on another banks slip and that he would have to rewrite it on a First Interstate slip. She was, of course, pushing the button. Frustrated and not wanting to write another note, he went back across the street to hold up the Bank of America branch. Just as the police arrived.
Does somebody out there in FReeperland have the "Jack" family genealogy handy for her? I lost mine.
I concur with the ignorant part.
There is an really is inexhaustable supply.
In other fields, a common problem is that people often fail to grasp what may be called (depending upon your statistical mood), the "nines" principle: getting something to "90%" work is often not terribly difficult, but not terribly useful. Getting it to "99%" work is a bit harder, and may start to be somewhat useful. 99.9% is much harder, and still not totally useful. Each additional "9" adds a considerably more difficulty. Unfortunately, many people think that if they can do a "90%" job, they're almost able to do the whole thing. They fail to realize that the extra "9"'s are everything.
When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the prophetess mean? For I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What can she mean when she says that I am the wisest of men? And yet she is a prophet and cannot lie. After a long consideration, I at last thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the prophet with a refutation in my hand. I should say to her, "Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you had said that I was the wisest."
Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him - his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination - and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him.
"Ahhh, but there is a vast difference between ignorance and stupidity."
One of my favorite quotes, but I can not find the original reference, is "Ignorance can be cured, but stupid's forever."