The Dunning-Kruger Effect


The Dunning–Kruger effect is the cognitive bias whereby people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability or believe that they are smarter than they really are.

The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when a person’s lack of knowledge and skills in a certain area cause them to overestimate their own competence. By contrast, this effect also causes those who excel in a given area to think the task is simple for everyone, and underestimate their relative abilities as well.

The Dunning-Kruger effect was described in 1999 and according to the researchers for whom it is named, psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the effect is explained by the fact that the metacognitive ability to recognize deficiencies in one’s own knowledge or competence requires that one possess at least a minimum level of the same kind of knowledge or competence, which those who exhibit the effect have not attained.

Worse, they assume that they are superior to others and, by merit of being incompetent, they are unable to recognize actual skill, knowledge and talent in other people. It is a blindness to their own fallibility, whereby they take the credit for the successes of others while denying any responsibility for their own mistakes.

As another result of the Dunning-Kruger effect, you may not know what you’re good at, because you assume that what comes easily to you also comes easily to everyone else.

Image: Agile Coffee
Image: Agile Coffee

The Dunning–Kruger can lead people to make bad decisions, such as choosing a career for which they are unfit or engaging in behavior dangerous for themselves or others due to being unaware or lacking the necessary skills. 

It may also inhibit the affected from addressing their shortcomings to improve themselves. 

Another contributing factor is that sometimes a tiny bit of knowledge on a subject can lead people to mistakenly believe that they know all there is to know about it. In other words, just a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

As a person who always seeks to know more about things and understand the "why" and the "root cause" of all the problems in my area, today I have a clear vision of how much we must respect the complexities of everything that we need to learn, and how much every little aspect in our field of activity may be surrounded by variables that we have not yet learned or that have not really been repeated before.

"... The lesson of the effect was always about how we should be humble and cautious about ourselves..." - David Dunning

As a person who always seeks to know more about things and understand the "why" and the "root cause" of all the problems in my area, today I have a clear vision of how much we must respect the complexities and how much every little thing in our field of activity may be surrounded by variables that we have not yet learned or that have not really been repeated before.


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