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Dunning Kruger Effect

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Dunning Kruger Effect Definition

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The term Dunning Kruger effect can be used to define a particular type of cognitive bias concerning which the people tend to believe that they are more capable and smarter than they actually are. According to the theory, people that have low abilities don’t really have the skills that are needed to identify the incompetence in them. 

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The combination of little cognitive ability and deprived self-awareness often leads to them overestimating their capabilities. You might have come across the phrase “fools are often blind to their foolishness”. The term Dunning Kruger effect provides an explanation to the phrase as a whole. In this article, students are going to learn what is Dunning Kruger effect and many other details. 

What is Dunning Kruger Effect?

The phenomenon is most likely experienced by pretty much everyone in their lives. For example, at a dinner table, you might have seen one of your relatives spouting out some details about any topic, claiming that he is right and that the opinions of others don’t matter and are wrong. It is clearly evident to the entire group that the person doesn’t have an idea regarding the topic that he is talking about. However, they still keep on prattling, oblivious to the ignorance that they are portraying. 

This phenomenon can be defined as the Dunning Kruger Effect. The term was coined after the researchers of the effect Justin Kruger and David Dunning. These psychologists described the term and conducted a study to support the phenomenon. 

Dunning Kruger Effect Examples and Facts 

An experiment done by Dunning and Kruger included 65 different participants as they were asked to rate the funniness of different jokes. While some participants failed miserably in determining the factors that would make the jokes funny, these were the people who actually considered themselves as excellent judges for finding out the humour in something. The incompetent people were not only poor in terms of performance but they were also unable to recognize their own work quality. 

This is one of the main reasons why students who tend to have bad scores in the examinations think that they actually don’t deserve such a score. They actually overestimate the ability and knowledge that they have. That way, they are not capable of seeing their own poor performance. Some of the most important Dunning Kruger effect examples and facts seem to prove this point that with low competence, people have often overestimated themselves since they are not able to judge themselves.

What Causes the Dunning Kruger Effect? 

Is there an explanation for the Dunning Kruger Effect? Are people actually too dense to know how incompetent they are? Well, the effect, as explained by the psychologists, stems from what is known as the “dual burden”. People aren’t just incompetent but this also doesn’t allow them the mental ability that is required to recognize the incompetence that they have. As a result, incompetent people: 

  • Make an overestimation of the skills that they have

  • Don’t recognize the expertise and genuine skills of others 

  • Don’t recognize their own lacking of skills and mistakes they made 

It has been pointed out in the Dunning Kruger Effect test that the skills and knowledge that are required to be competent for one task are the same qualities that one needs in order to recognize that they aren’t great in performing the task properly. Hence, if the abilities are not present in the person, they will remain ignorant to the lack of abilities as well. 

Who are the People Affected by the Dunning Kruger Effect? 

Unfortunately, all of us tend to be the victims of the effect. This is due to the fact that no matter how much knowledge, experience, and information we gain, there are areas that we still remain uninformed about. There might be certain areas and skills where you will be smart but it is impossible to be competent and an expert in every single area. This Dunning Kruger Effect graph is a perfect representation of the phenomenon. 

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The truth of the matter is that everyone can be susceptible to the effect. Most people tend to experience it in their regular lives. People who are actually genuine with their intelligence tend to have a belief that their knowledge and intelligence can actually be carried over to other areas with which they are not much familiar. 

But since the incompetent tend to believe that they are the experts, what do actual experts have to say about their abilities? According to Kruger and Dunning, the people who have a higher competence tend to hold a very realistic view of their capabilities and knowledge. However, this leads to them underestimating their knowledge in certain areas well. While these individuals are better than others, they are often not convinced about their own superiority. 


The article mentioned above explains the Dunning Kruger Effect in detail. Students can study the Dunning Kruger effect PDF to gain more information on the topic. 

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FAQs on Dunning Kruger Effect

1.What is Dunning Kruger effect? 

The Dunning Kruger Effect can be termed as a type of cognitive bias that is formed in people who are mostly incompetent. According to the explanation of the term, the people who lack the skills and expertise in particular areas tend to overestimate those exact skills and expertise. Hence, they aren’t really able to comprehend the foolishness of their actions. The term Dunning Kruger effect was coined after the research psychologists who first provided a description for the phenomena, Justin Kruger and David Dunning. The effect provides a basic explanation for the reason why poorly performing and incompetent people tend to think that they are more capable and have more knowledge than the average person. 

2.What can cause the Dunning Kruger Effect? 

The Dunning Kruger effect basically stems from the reason of dual burden in people. In these cases, the people are not just incompetent to perform the tasks properly but they don’t actually possess the mental ability which is required to recognize their own incompetence. As a result, these people often overestimate the knowledge and skills possessed by them. They also fail to comprehend the skills and knowledge of others who are genuinely incompetent. The people who lack the capabilities also lack the skills to know that they lack the capabilities and hence aren’t able to understand why they cannot perform a particular task or provide an explanation for their incompetence.

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