Ming the Mechanic:
The Dunning-Kruger effect

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 The Dunning-Kruger effect2007-06-28 22:28
by Flemming Funch

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon whereby people who have little knowledge systematically think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.

The phenomenon was demonstrated in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, then both of Cornell University. Their results were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in December 1999.

Kruger and Dunning noted a number of previous studies which tend to suggest that in skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis, that "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" (as Charles Darwin put it). They hypothesized that with a typical skill which humans may possess in greater or lesser degree,

1. incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill,
2. incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others,
3. incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy,
4. if they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack
I guess I feel a little better about feeling ignorant and incompentent sometimes.

Oh, and here's a quote from a very wise man:
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything..." -- Richard Feynman

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28 Jun 2007 @ 22:58 by Hanae @ : Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is an impression that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals. It is a belief that one has the capabilities to execute the courses of actions required to manage prospective situations. Unlike efficacy, which is the power to produce an effect (in essence, competence), self-efficacy is the belief (whether or not accurate) that one has the power to produce that effect..
People with a self-efficacy significantly beyond their actual ability likely overestimate their ability to complete tasks, which can lead to irreversible damage. On the other hand, people with a self efficacy significantly lower than their ability are unlikely to grow and expand their skills. Research shows that the ‘optimum’ level of self efficacy is a little above ability; which encourages people to tackle challenging tasks and gain valuable experience.
Albert Bandura successfully showed that people of differing self efficacy perceive the world in fundamentally different ways:

- People with a high self efficacy are generally of the opinion that they are in control of their own lives; that their own actions and decisions shape their lives.

- On the other hand, people with low self efficacy see their lives as somewhat out of their hands.  

28 Jun 2007 @ 23:09 by Hanae @ : Locus of Control

Overconfidence bias may cause many individuals to overestimate their degree of control as well as their odds of success. This may be protective against depression - since Seligman and Maier's model of depression includes a sense of learned helplessness and loss of predictability and control. Depressives tend to be more accurate, and less overconfident in their assessments of the probabilities of good and bad events occurring to them. This has cause some researchers to consider that overconfidence bias may be adaptive and/or protective in some situations.
Many people tend to overestimate the likelihood that they will be in the top 1% of incomes. They also underestimate the likelihood that their incomes will fall substantially. This can bias individuals in favor of policies and political views that are quite generous to those at the top of the income scale, and against policies that aid the poor.
Overconfidence bias often serves to increase the effects of escalating commitment - causing decision makers to refuse to withdraw from a losing situation, or to continue to throw good money, effort, time and other resources after bad investments.  

28 Jun 2007 @ 23:17 by ming : Self-efficacy
Hm, I think I need to increase my self-efficacy, and lower my overconfidence. I don't feel very in control of my own life, but I'm very confident that it is going to be great.

Very interesting how the overconfidence gets a political angle, when one favors views that support where one would like to be, rather than where one actually is or is likely to be.  

28 Jun 2007 @ 23:50 by Hanae @ : The Pierian spring

"Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!"



29 Jun 2007 @ 00:10 by dylan @ : learning lifecycle
Reminds me of the 'learning lifecycle' that I encountered once upon a time:

unconcious incompetence -> concsious incompetence -> unconcsious competence > conscious competence

ding you're done.  

29 Jun 2007 @ 00:58 by ming : conscious
I think the unconscious competence goes at the end of that cycle. First one doesn't know that one doesn't know. Then one finds out. Then one works on it and becomes competent, while paying close attention. Then ones knowledge becomes second-nature, and one is competent without having to think about it.

Think about driving a car. You'll end up being able to drive home from work without any recollection of what happened along the way, because you were thinking of something else.  

29 Jun 2007 @ 16:38 by celestial : Ming,
Thanks for the post. It brought up a memory when I was much, much younger (and much more ignorant).

Someone I worked with was talking about another person and said,

"He's to stupid to know he's stupid."

Even though he wasn't talking about me, I took it to heart and have slowly wised up over the years, yet I still have a long road ahead of me!

Ignorance was bliss but I figured out ignorance can get one killed, too.  

29 Jun 2007 @ 17:42 by Hanae @ : Richard Feynman

"The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty - some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.

Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure - that it is possible to live and not know. But I don't know everybody realizes that this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and very strong struggle. Permit us to question - to doubt, that's all - not to be sure. And I think it is important that we do not forget the importance of this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained."

---{link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/archive/feynman/|Richard Feynman}: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman as told to Ralph Leighton.  

1 Jul 2007 @ 21:09 by krugar : elitist
I believe this to be an elitist style of thinking. Everyone has something to bring to the table.

1. incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill,
Who decides whom is incompetent? Incompetent is negative in nature, but overestimating your ability can come in handy in certain situations. Especially in poker.
2. incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others,
I think everyone recognizes other people's skills when seen, but they might not talk like they do.
3. incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy,
"and competent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy" ~ the seeminly random variations in the mind are beautiful that most people who know a skill will not consider for their field because they want unity and simplicity instead of diversity and complexity. But complexity is beautiful.
4. if they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack
If a person is told how to do something one way they might believe that they lacked the skill once they learn to do it that way, but you would have to be incompetent to think that the way in which you do something can't be figured out differently(or more efficient) in the spur of the moment and with all variations of that person considered. I think a person can only be considered incompetent when they define ideas in absolutes. I guess I am incompetent for saying that.. haha. But Justin Kruger and David Dunning are incompetent as well as much as I know concerning this effect they created.  

2 Jul 2007 @ 04:25 by Alison @ : Learning to accept your ignorance
Knowing and accepting your ignorance is far more important. It is only then that you are aware of your ignorance and start to take action to build their skill and knowledge.

When in ignorance, and refusing to accept that you are not up to par that is the most dangerous.  

2 Jul 2007 @ 21:40 by ming : Ignorance
Yeah, I don't necessarily think there's any reason to condemn incompetent people. We might not all have been equally lucky with genes, upbringing, education, opportunities, etc. But the dangerous thing is if somebody is incompetent, but that they don't realize, don't admit it, and they make a mess out of someting they didn't know was there.

A person who's aware of their own ignorance, but who's bold, might choose to do something that others consider "impossible" and might succeed. Mrs.Fields might build a huge franchise on her homemade cookies, despite knowing nothing about business, and despite being adviced that it wasn't a great idea. She knew very well what she didn't know, and got others to do those parts.

Somebody who's out of touch with reality, and who is aware of what they can do and what they can't do - that's more like the guy who jumps off the roof because he thinks he could fly after eating mushrooms. Not that he's a lesser person, but he's probably dead.  

17 Jul 2009 @ 11:36 by Ben Buchanan @ : Dunning-Kruger effect video
Here is a good little video on the dunning-kruger effect as well as the lake wobegon effect - when people tend to rate themselves as above average. i think the dunning-krugger effect is great because it can protect people agaist critising themselves. I don't want to know what i'm bad at!
here it he video:

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15 Dec 2016 @ 08:53 by Govind Nath @ : Happy New Year
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Other stories in
2014-09-27 00:04: You must be an expert by now
2014-09-26 15:15: Brevity
2011-11-06 21:33: Counting what counts
2011-01-23 13:46: Authenticity
2010-08-23 01:31: Semantic Pauses
2010-06-27 02:28: Doubt
2009-10-25 17:04: Opinions, perceptions and intuition
2009-10-15 08:32: Abstraction
2008-06-29 16:47: Complicated and Complex
2008-02-20 16:39: The universe as a virtual reality

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