The Importance of Self-Awareness: The Dunning Kruger Effect

21st January 2019 | , ,

Dunning Kruger effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect first appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1999 in a journal titled Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments view pdf.

In short, the paper argues that people tend to hold overly favourable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. It is a concept that lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people already recognise in workplaces where people, (leaders included) of low ability believe their cognitive ability as greater than it is. This belief-bias comes from a lack of self-awareness and an incapacity to recognize their own low ability. Without self-awareness, people with low-ability cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. In other words, the combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities and to recognise the frequency and scope of their ignorance. As Dunning said the incompetent are often blessed with an ‘inappropriate confidence’, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge – they don’t know what they don’t know.

On the other hand, Dunning Kruger found that many highly competent people understate their ability – they know what they don’t know. This similar to what the American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.”

Check out the
“The Dunning-Kruger Song” it is part of The Incompetence Opera, . The mini-opera is billed as “a musical encounter with the Peter principle and the Dunning-Kruger Effect”.

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