November 7, 2011

The Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect provides some very interesting insights into human behaviour, with implications for the audio community. What is it? In a nutshell, it refers to the tendency of the unskilled to be overconfident because they simply don't know what they don't know.

Kruger Dunning effect in more detail >

There are two sides to it. There are those who over-estimate their abilities due to ignorance - this is referred to as illusory superiority, a form of cognitive bias. Others tend to under-estimate their abilities, partially due to being more informed and aware of their own limits, and perhaps overlooking that most others are not equally competent.

Do you suffer from illusory inferiority? If so, people probably praise your abilities and you feel that you don't quite deserve the acclaim. You might feel the need to balance it out by pointing out how much you still have to learn. If that's you, give yourself a pat on the back! You probably don't give yourself the credit you deserve.

Do you suffer from illusory superiority? If so, you probably aren't the one that is suffering. It's others, who see things that you can't, or don't want to see. Jesus had wise words to say that relate to this issue. "As a guest, don't take the highest seat so that the host has to ask you to step down and give it to someone else. Instead, take the lowest seat so that the host can then offer you a better one."

What to do about it?

Two suggestions:

1. Encourage those who under-estimate themselves, give them the kudos they deserve, despite what they say they will appreciate it.
2. Ignore those who blow their own horn. Smile knowingly. Life will dish out what is deserved.

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