Baffled by the incompetence of others? Aware of your own?
We’ve often been amazed that the perpetrators of Outrageous deeds seem so ignorant of just how profoundly incompetent they really are. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger may have found the answer.
According to their recently published research, there seems to be an inverse relationship between competence and confidence. Dr. Dunning of Cornell and Dr. Kruger of the University of Illinois tested groups of people on a wide variety of skills and found that those who scored poorest often had a very high opinion of their own abilities. Why? Simple – the skills required for competence tend to be the same skills required to recognize competence, or the lack thereof, in yourself and others. Conversely, those who were really skilled tended to doubt their abilities.
The research subjects were tested on logic, English grammar, and humor. Results showed that those who scored in the lowest quartile were most likely to dramatically overestimate their own abilities. For instance, on the test of logical reasoning, subjects scoring in the 12th percentile guessed they had scored in the 62nd percentile. Those who scored in the 10th percentile on the grammar test guessed that they had scored in the 61st percentile.
What’s the cause of all this excessive self-confidence? Too much emphasis on self-esteem in American school systems? Over-exposure to our upbeat friends at the Positive Press web site? We’re not sure, but we do find this research very helpful in understanding why the jurors with most outrageous verdicts seem to arrive at them in the shortest time, why the Hillary Clinton’s of the world are so dogmatic in their pronouncements, and why Benny is always the only one laughing when he tells a joke.
Here at the Outrage we’ve always been keenly aware of the shortcomings of others, and we’d be the first to recognize our own, if we had any. Egghead academics aside, we remain supremely confident in our culinary skills – the death of an occasional dinner guest is the result of impurities in the local water supply. And we sound like Sinatra when we sing in the shower – the dogs and cats that run away are just jealous.