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The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Why Honest Self-Assessment is Important

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

ustin Kruger and David Dunning from Cornell University published a study called,

"Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments"

What they found is something that may, or may not, be revealing to you.

They found that people who believe their selves to be competent, when they are in fact incompetent, will overestimate their abilities in many arenas. They assume that they are above average. These people have an over-inflated view of self.

Oddly, the highly competent test subjects seem to underestimate their own ability and assume that others are performing equally well. These people have an over-inflated view of others.

A quote from the study states, "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

What I have given is a very brief explanation, but it touches on some key points.

I encourage you to read the study for yourself. You can easily find it in any major search engine.

How is this helpful for our purposes?

In my opinion, I believe that before honest self-assessment can occur, one must check themselves against the truly successful or competent and/or seek experience through trying for their selves. As Dunning and Kruger found, the incompetent often do not know they are incompetent. These people needed a wake-up call from life, or an honest competent person. If they became more competent, they would face the realization that they weren't as able as they originally thought. In one sense, ignorance is bliss, but it is a far cry from the ability to achieve.

Trying and failing might actually be the better ticket in some cases.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong"

Failures can help us smooth out the rough edges and help us see more clearly the direction we should go if we are able to learn from them. The more competent a person becomes, the more they are able to see their shortcomings. However, do not let this rob you of your confidence or desire to keep stepping out. There can be great comfort in knowing we are not skilled or competent in some endeavors. I believe this can lead to greater focus.

Remember that as you grow in your own competence, you may find yourself ahead of the curve. That is a good thing. Just keep the proper perspective about yourself and others along the way.

So, what would I like to leave you with? I say go out there and try some things. Become self-aware. Find out if you really are who, and what, you think you are. Test your mettle. Ask those with more experience than yourself for honest feedback. The world is full of sage advice, a lot of the time we just have to be aware that we haven't been paying attention.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a big step in developing a firm foundation in wisdom.


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