The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Have you even coached someone who has no idea just how bad they are?

I was researching perceptive errors recently and came across this interesting study by 2 guys at Cornell University. The study found that unskilled people not only lack the skill to do things, but also the metacognitive ability to assess that they are unskilled and form an inflated assessment of their level of ability. In summary:

  • In not being able to assess their own ability, incompetent people will overestimate their own ability relative to objective criteria
  • Incompetent people cannot recognise competency in other people
  • Incompetent people are less able to compare their ability to that of their peers through social comparison.
  • Highly competent people underestimate their ability, because they assume that what they find to be easy, is easy for other people too.
  • Paradoxically, the ability to recognise incompetence can only be improved by teaching people to be more competent.

What does this all mean? Yes, it’s frustrating to coach and deal with incompetent people, but it won’t do any good to point this out to them – they’re too incompetent to agree with you. You just have to gently guide them into improvement. And then, they might be able to appreciate their previous shortcomings with the benefit of hindsight.

Certainly, i had no idea how badly i coached until i was taught to coach better. And I continue to realise how bad i coached recently whenever i learn how to do something better.

Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?


3 Responses to “The Dunning-Kruger Effect”

  1. mickmurphy Says:

    Oh the conversations we have had about this…

  2. Hugh Nguyen Says:

    lol. i think understanding this goes a long way to making coaching less frustrating. Although you still have to work out a way to improve people without giving them a point of reference of where they’re at.

  3. mickmurphy Says:

    Oh btw, interesting post…

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