What is the Dunning–Kruger Effect?

On illusory superiority and physicians

[By Staff reporters]

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.



More: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/physicianNarcissism.pdf


On the other hand, people of high ability incorrectly assume that tasks that are easy for them are also easy for other people. And so, are doctors especially guilty of this effect?


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15 Responses

  1. The “impostor syndrome”

    If you’re dealing with impostor syndrome at work, you’re not the only one. In fact, the International Journal of Behavioral Science estimated that 70% of people at some point deal with the phenomenon, which it describes as possessing “intense feelings that [your] achievements are undeserved.”

    If you’re afraid that you aren’t as smart as other people think you are, that’s probably a good sign. A Cornell University study confirmed what has long been suspected, since Charles Darwin theorized in 1871 that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” In other words, people who are actually incompetent are often painfully unaware of that fact, and “grossly overestimate” their abilities compared to their peers.



  2. Intellectual Humility

    The importance of knowing you might be wrong -OR – Why it’s so hard to see our own ignorance, and what to do about it.


    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


    The corollary of the Dunning Kruger effect

    A person with better knowledge / information/ skills will overestimate the knowledge/ information / skills of another person.

    I can’t get rid of this bias….

    Diana Barbonta MD PhD


  4. DKE

    “The greatest enemy of knowledge, is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge”
    – Stephen Hawking

    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


  5. DKE

    In 1990, a Stanford University graduate student in psychology named Elizabeth Newton illustrated the curse of knowledge by studying a simple game in which she assigned people to one of two roles: “tapper” or “listener.” Each tapper was asked to pick a well-known song, such as “Happy Birthday,” and tap out the rhythm on a table. The listener’s job was to guess the song.

    Over the course of Newton’s experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only three of the songs correctly: a success ratio of 2.5%. But before they guessed, Newton asked the tappers to predict the probability that listeners would guess correctly. They predicted 50%. The tappers got their message across one time in 40, but they thought they would get it across one time in two. Why?

    When a tapper taps, it is impossible for her to avoid hearing the tune playing along to her taps. Meanwhile, all the listener can hear is a kind of bizarre Morse code. Yet the tappers were flabbergasted by how hard the listeners had to work to pick up the tune.

    Prasad Nilantha
    via Ann Miller RN MHA


  6. E-mails and egos

    An inability to step outside of one’s own head may be behind e-mail miscommunication, according to recent research.


    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


  7. DKE

    Well into my adult life I believed both my parents understood statistics and probability. In different ways both proved me utterly mistaken.

    I first learned of logical fallacies in junior high. Then later again in college. I mistakenly believed that people were generally familiar with them. I’ve since proven myself almost entirely incorrect on this point.

    When I learned about cognitive bias I was at long last prepared to grasp that no one already knew of them, or how important they are to our thinking.

    Terry Rosen
    via Ann Miller RN MHA


  8. DKE

    A couple of things here.

    One, the philosophical perspective from Martin Heidigger where by ‘you only know what you know’ and as such the listeners may not know the tune – it could always have been badly done.

    And secondly, there is the perspective that it does not depend on your qualifications, knowledge or ability to succeed in life. Many sales people earn much more that other professions arguably seen as a higher profession just because they can use the information they are given to make a sale It is not a trick everyone can do.

    Paul Templar
    via Ann Miller RN MHA




    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


  10. Narcissistic Doctors


    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA



    Hanlon’s razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways, including:
    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    An eponymous law, probably named after a Robert J. Hanlon, it is a philosophical razor which suggests a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for human behavior.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


  12. Besserwisser Definition

    From German. Meaning “knowing better”. And that’s exactly what it refers to, like the more common “smart ass” or “wise ass”, or even “smart elick” (smart aleck).

    A besserwisser – or wise ass – is a person, often intellectual, or at least pseudo-intellectual, who thinks he or she has more general knowledge about things than most others. It can be correcting language mistakes in grammar and spelling, or it can be within a specific topic like everything from politics, geography and baseball to history and science – anything you can imagine!

    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


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