Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are you feeling competent?

Beware, it may be a sign of incompetence. I have always suspected that the people who are dreadful communicators consider themselves skilled. I have come across some research to support this view.

Here is a quick sample:

Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find
They're blind to own failings, others' skills

Erica Goode, New York Times

Tuesday, January 18

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

``I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn't know it,'' Dunning said.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

``Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,'' wrote Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dunning.

This deficiency in ``self-monitoring skills,'' the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.

See the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle.

This agrees with some of the research done at the Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB by OISE/UT. Struggling math students were shown fractions questions just long enough to form a judgment about whether they could get the correct solution. Generally, they were much more confident about their abilities to do fractions questions than their performance on such questions indicated. Boys were especially prone to over-estimate their competence (this comes as no surprise to my fifteen year-old daughter).

What do you think you are good at? Blogging? Presenting? Communicating? Problem-Solving? It may be evidence that you are hopeless.

1 comment:

Tanner said...

Ouch. I am going to crawl under my desk and suck my thumb.