The Dunning-Kruger effect is described as a “confidence-skill disconnect”, a mental state in which people believe they are smarter and more competent than they really are, and “being ignorant of one’s own ignorance”. It’s also been called Mount stupid and Smug Snake. Does this sound like anyone you know?
I’m sure we all know at least one person at work or in social situations who acts like this. They are truly annoying to have to work with or to spend time around. Unfortunately, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, suffers from this psychological effect.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is defined as the failure to assess self-efficacy by a person for specific tasks.
The DK effect affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. The extent of the Dunning-Kruger effect on a person as measured by David Dunning in test cases involve tests of humor, grammar, and logic. The results found that people lacking in these fields grossly misjudged the scores of their performances. DK effect is a form of illusory superiority and a consequence of it.
Basically, people lack the common sense to estimate their own ability. They feel that their ability to do tasks is better than what it really is. Hence, such people overestimate their own ability. On the other end of the spectrum, people with higher intelligence feel that others are also as intelligent as them. They underestimate themselves and overestimate others (False Consensus Bias).
The underlying cause of the DK effect is debated. There are two schools of thought on this. According to Dunning and Kruger, the cause is a metacognitive flaw or the wrong perspective of their knowledge and character. Some authors have said that irrational optimism or ego might be the reason for this. The researchers have also found that when told about their ‘flaws’, some people improved their scores meaning their competency increased but there were people whose beliefs in themselves increased and they became even more incompetent than they already were.
Competent people, on the other hand, suffer from the False Consensus Bias. Intelligent people have an estimate as to how knowledgeable they are but fail at estimating other people’s knowledge. Simply speaking, they think that what’s easy for them is also easy for other people. This is known as the False Consensus Bias.
Two quotes can sum up the Dunning-Kruger Effect very easily.
Stupid people are too stupid to know that they are stupid.