Coined by then-Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people who are NOT competent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence.
And not only do they fail to recognize their incompetence, they’re also likely to feel confident that they actually are competent and can even express verbiage and understanding to others that makes others believe that they are able to perform a task.
Why is this dangerous? Imagine relying on someone who says they are a skilled hunter or marksman when a disaster strikes? Can you imagine the personal failure if you rely on someone who claims to be “able to grow food in any environment” only to learn that can’t keep a single plant alive.
The 1999 paper that launched the Dunning-Kruger Effect was called “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.” Across 4 studies, Professor Dunning and his team administered tests of humor, grammar, and logic. And they found that participants scoring in the bottom quarter grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. For example, in one of the studies, Cornell undergrads took a 20-item grammar test. After completing the test, the students estimated how their ability to “identify grammatically correct standard English” compared with others. And as you might expect, the lowest scoring students grossly overestimated their abilities. Those who scored at the 10th percentile (i.e. they scored higher than only 10% of others) rated their grammar abilities at the 67th percentile. In essence, their actual grammar ability was really poor, but they thought they were in the top third of people.
Do you know anyone who experiences either side of the Dunning-Kruger Effect?
How have you dealt with it?
Will this understanding change how to vet people for your preparedness group?
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