The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Self-Assessment

NW Maths

“The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger Club is that you don’t know you are in the Dunning-Kruger Club”

-Various members of the Twitterati.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a phenomenon suggesting that people with low ability in a given field are likely to over-estimate their competence. The original paper by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, originally published in 1999, is available here, although, as they themselves acknowledge, the paper builds significantly on prior psychological studies. The authors describe the phenomenon as a “dual burden” for those with limited knowledge in a particular domain- “not only do [low ability individuals] reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.”

Importantly, Dunning and Kruger suggest two conditions which are likely to be required for the phenomenon to hold. The first condition is when “knowledge about the domain confers competence in the domain”. If…

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