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What Are They Thinking? Essay

2225 words - 9 pages

There are many instances in today’s society when one will wonder, “What in the world is that person thinking?” This question may be asked regarding someone’s outfit, singing performance, or even career choice. How could someone be so wrong about their judgment or knowledge? The purpose of this paper is to provide some incite to how people could be so oblivious of their incompetence.
In 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger performed studies to test the competence of individuals and the effect of competence or incompetence on self-assessments. Dunning and Kruger stated, “…the skills that engender competence in a particular domain are often the very same skills necessary to evaluate competence in that domain-one’s own or anyone else’s” (Kruger & Dunning, 1999, p.1121). Therefore, incompetent people lack metacognition skills which are crucial to identifying how well one is performing.
In all areas of life, there are people who are not aware of the deficit between what they think they can do and their actual ability. Those who are less competent tend to overestimate their abilities while those who are more competent tend to underestimate their abilities. Studies show that bottom performers tend to overestimate their performance by approximately 30% (Hawes, 2010). Unskilled performers are said to have “illusory superiority” which causes the incompetent to overestimate their abilities. This leads the unskilled performers to “mistakenly rate their ability much higher than average (Lightfoot, 2012).”
An example of the Dunning-Kruger effect has been presented by Joe Lightfoot, Director and co-founder of Move. Eat. Treat. Lightfoot’s example explains how most healthcare professionals are not knowledgeable enough to provide lifestyle advice, but these healthcare professionals believe they do possess the knowledge. Lightfoot presented a graph of lifestyle knowledge spectrum with the left being low degree of knowledge and the right being a high degree of knowledge. He stated, “The Dunning-Kruger effect leads people to believe they are further to the right of this spectrum than they actually are (Lightfoot, 2012, p. 2).”
As you can see, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a very real and prominent problem. The goal of this report is to provide research findings and a proposal on how to solve this issue. Research findings will include information such as: results of studies performed by Dunning and Kruger, the Dunning-Kruger effect in the media, and effects of Dunning-Kruger on business and education.
Findings of Dunning and Kruger. During the time of the experiments, David Dunning was a psychologists and Justin Kruger was his graduate student. Together they performed four studies to prove that people can be unskilled and unaware of it. The four studies explored four predictions made by Dunning and Kruger.
Dunning and Kruger (1999) state:
Prediction 1: Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically...

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