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cocky bastards

John Gruber mentions a report in the New Scientist about some research showing that people prefer cockiness to expertise:

The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are.

Now, this preference would be irritating but tolerable if cockiness was at least reasonably well-correlated with competence in practice, so that it wouldn’t usually be a mistake to plump for the cocky judgment over the quiet one. And it would be a little better if the two were actually uncorrelated. But as a famous paper by Kruger and Sunning showed, people who are bad at what they do are generally also incapable of understanding that they suck — and this directly contributes to inflated self-perception. So, incompetence tends to make people cocky and people prefer cocky judgements over demonstrated expertise, which is pretty much the worst of both worlds.

Written by Kieran

July 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Posted in leadership, psychology

6 Responses

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  1. Loveable fools win out after all…

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    Sean Safford

    July 30, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  2. That famous paper is quite popular, but its refutation is rather unknown.

    Another Overcoming Bias post no a paper questioning overconfidence theories is here.

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    TGGP

    July 30, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  3. […] Posted on July 31, 2009. Filed under: Political economy | An excellent post from Orgtheory.net: […]

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  4. […] Posted on July 31, 2009. Filed under: Political economy | An excellent post from Orgtheory.net: […]

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  5. […] people pick cockiness, or to use contemporary urban parlance, swagga’ over actual competence. The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, […]

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  6. Minor nitpick: the paper is by Kruger and Dunning.

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    Nom-de-Guerre

    September 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm


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