What is the Dunning-Kruger effect and why does it occur?

Do you think that people with less academic preparation are capable of adequately assessing their own abilities? The answer is no. The Dunning-Kruger effect can prove inability to make an objective assessment of one's abilities, taking into account the degree of training.

For example, when a person self-medicates without having knowledge of medicine, we are faced with a bias. What happens is that it is irrationally assumed that one has the absolute truth about the effect positive you will have self-medication. On the other hand, the best trained tend to be undervalued.

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect?

When a person does not have a broad command of some subject, the Dunning-Kruger effect proposes that is prone to overestimate its capabilities in that area specific. On the other hand, he affirms that those who are trained on any subject tend not to trust themselves.

How does this theory arise? In the 1990s, David Dunning and Justin Kruger promoted an investigation with the idea of ​​proving that incompetent people were incapable of knowing that they were, precisely due to their own incompetence.

However, a mistake is often made when trying to use this theory. And is that It is not about the incompetence of others, but about one's own. I must wonder if I am aware of my own incompetence in those things that I am not good at.

It is true that we can observe when someone is unable to realize their own incompetence and tries to give an impression of exacerbated dominance. But there is no way to establish that the person is not actually aware of their lack of ability.

People with the right skills for a task may underestimate themselves, thinking that they will not be able to perform it.

Read: Placebo effect: everything you should know

What causes this behavior?

This effect is what is known as a cognitive bias, what prevents people from being able to objectively evaluate themselves. According to the authors, Dunning and Kruger, this phenomenon occurs because of a problem of metacognition (the ability to analyze one's own performance).

The premise is the following: those people with limited knowledge on any subject have a dual burden. Not only do they draw wrong conclusions and make constant mistakes, but their own incompetence deprives them of the ability to realize it.

Self-esteem is an important factor for a confidence bias to occur, as is the case with the Dunning-Kruger effect. Every superiority complex actually hides an inferiority complex and problems in self-esteem.

In this way, people often choose the alternative of pretending to be capable rather than accepting the reality of not knowing about a subject. There may even be people with a high level of intelligence who have a cognitive bias regarding their abilities.

How do we find the Dunning-Kruger effect on a day-to-day basis?

Now we will look at some everyday examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. As we have mentioned, anyone can exhibit this type of behavior, regardless of your intelligence level.

1. Conversations about politics

Politics is one of the subjects in which people irrationally feel that they have exact and truthful answers. It is common to hear simplistic opinions on complex political issues by people who do not have a training in the matter.

2. Medicine and health

Medical sciences are another topic that people tend to simplify, to the point of safely indicating the effectiveness of some medications without taking into account the opinion of professionals.

In this way, there are those who believe that their personal experience gives them the knowledge to to help to others.

3. Relationships with a partner

When we talk about relationship problems with some trusted friends, we often receive opinions about what we should do to improve conditions.

These opinions are based only on anecdotal events.. However, our friends could assure you that they are efficient solutions.

How can I avoid falling into this effect?

If you want to avoid this cognitive bias, what we must do is create the habit of naturally questioning all those opinions that we take for certain bluntly. That is, begin to ask ourselves questions that dismantle our beliefs in order to reach a more objective opinion.

Another good way to stay sensible about your own abilities is to look for updated information from time to time. Those people who stick with what they learned and don't bother to keep looking for new data will most likely end up overstating what they know.

Social relationships abound in this effect, since every time an opinion or advice is given it can be incurred.

Discover: The yo-yo effect: how to avoid it?

What do studies say about it?

The verified information regarding the Dunning-Kruger effect concludes that it cannot be understood as a simple way of explaining why people do not realize their mistakes. There are articles about it, but it is a difficult effect to measure.

Certain investigations established that, when a person has difficulties to improve in some aspect, they can notice it quickly. However, proponents of Dunning and Kruger's original study argue that it is valid to think that people who are more confident in their abilities tend to omit flaws.

The latter would be because their confidence level prevents having a good capacity for self-criticism and acceptance of mistakes. Instead, they rationalize their reality for convenience.

How to treat people with the Dunning-Kruger effect?

It is natural to feel helpless when we are in the presence of people who have simplistic opinions on unknown issues. Ideally, stay calm and remember that you are not the one with the problem. When we allow third-party comments to alter our mood, we are empowering them.

To the extent that we are able to accept the opinions of others, no matter how far-fetched they may be, we will be closer to reaching a good level of emotional maturity. Remember that no one is obliged to share the same opinions as us, even if they are true.