The illusion of self-respect makes many incompetent people think they are great

Are you as good as you think? Are you good at money management? Or good at reading other people’s emotions? How is your health compared to those you know? Is your grammar above average?

Knowing how good we are when compared to others not only gives us more confidence, but also helps us know when to follow reason and instincts and when to ask for advice from someone. However, psychological research shows that we are not very good at self-assessment.

In fact , we often overestimate ourselves . Researchers have called this phenomenon the Dunning-Kruger Effect . This effect explains why over 100 studies have shown that people are delusional. We consider ourselves superior to others to the point of violating even the laws of mathematics.

The illusion of self-respect makes many incompetent people think they are great
Those with the least ability often rate themselves as the best experts.

When two software engineers at two companies were asked to rate their performance, 32% of the engineers at one company and 42% of the other placed themselves in the top 5%. In another study, 88% of American drivers considered themselves to have above-average driving skills. Those are not the only studies.

Often people tend to rate themselves above others in areas like health, leadership, ethics, and more. What’s really interesting is that the people with the least ability often rate themselves as the best experts.

People who were considered poor in logical reasoning, grammar, financial literacy, math, emotional intelligence, medical testing, and chess all tended to rate themselves as proficient as a true expert.

So who is most susceptible to delusions like this? Sadly, we all have many capacity gaps that we don’t realize. Why?

When psychologists Dunning and Kruger first described the effect in 1999, they suggested that people with a lack of knowledge and skills in some way would be affected by two things at the same time.

In other words, poor people lack the technical skills needed to realize how bad they are. For example, when studying contestants at a university debate tournament, the bottom 25% of teams in the first round lost four out of five rounds. But they think they won by almost 60%. Without a firm grasp of the law of rhetoric, they simply cannot discern when or how many times their argument has been defeated.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is not about letting your ego blind you to weakness. People often accept their own shortcomings when they know about it. In one study, students who were bad at logic questions from the very beginning when taking logic lessons were willing to admit that their initial performance was bad. That could be the reason why people with average skills or experts are often less confident in their abilities. They know enough to understand that there’s a lot they don’t know.

That is, experts will realize how well-versed they are in the subject matter. But they often make another mistake: they assume everyone else is just as proficient . So these people, whether they’re bad or really good, are often caught up in the trouble of misjudging themselves. Without skills, they cannot recognize their own mistakes. When they are too good, they do not realize how superior their abilities are.

So, if you can’t recognize the existence of the Dunning-Krugger effect, what can you do to know how your powers really are? First , ask someone else’s opinion, and consider it, even if it’s hard to hear. Second , and more importantly, keep learning. The more knowledgeable we are, the less likely we are to have gaps in our competence. It can all be summed up in the old saying: When arguing with a fool, first make sure you’re not a fool in their eyes.