Washington Post: Psychology of Over-Confidence Suddenly Popular

Washington Post: Psychology of Over-Confidence Suddenly Popular

Science has a name for a know-it-all.

The phenomenon in which people think they know more than they really do — and even boast about it — is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after researchers David Dunning and Justin Kruger, who documented evidence of the effect in a 1999 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

But these days, there seems to be a rising interest in the effect, Dunning told The Washington Post.

Whether people want merely to understand “the other side” or are just looking for a descriptive phrase, the Dunning-Kruger effect works as both, Dunning told the Post.

And it can be dangerous.

“You get into a situation where people can be too deferential to the people in charge,” Dunning told the Post. “You have to have people around you that are willing to tell you you’re making an error.”

Though hubris has been around as long as humans — and everyone has at least a touch of it — some social scientists say President Donald Trump offers a prime example.

“Donald Trump has been overestimating his knowledge for decades,” Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, told the Post. “It’s not surprising that he would continue that pattern into the White House.”

Steven Sloman, a cognitive psychologist at Brown University, thinks the Dunning-Kruger effect has become popular outside of the research world because it is a simple phenomenon that could apply to all of us.

Many people “cannot wrap their minds around the rise of Trump,” Sloman said. “He’s exactly the opposite of everything we value in a politician, and he’s the exact opposite of what we thought Americans valued.”

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Jan 8, 2019 - -

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