Thursday, May 1, 2008

Socratic wisdom

Ben Goldacre at Bad Science draws attention to a paper on being too incompetent to assess your own incompetence:

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
1999, Vol. 77, No. 6. ] 121-1134
Justin Kruger and David Dunning
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.”

Available in PDF here


Anonymous said...

It is also worth noting that the same psychologits who invented antidepresants for depressed people also agree people who are clinically depressed are amazingly accurate in assesing themselves the right way in comparison to their peers---not lower, just exact!

Mathias said...

You can replicate these results with a very simple experiment - ask a large audience of people who thinks their driving skills are "above average", and watch in awe everyone raise their hand...