Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Dunning-Kruger Effect

People are very interesting animals that, despite possessing the most powerful brain out of all the species, exhibit many strange psychological phenomena. For example, in psychology there is a well-known cognitive bias (the act of subconsciously making bias while thinking) called the Dunning-Kruger effect. 
This effect states that people who are unskilled are more likely to fail to recognise their incompetence and rather overestimate their capabilities. It is most prevalent in cases where someone first learns a skill, such as singing at the karaoke, then believing that they are extremely skilled or an expert in the field when it comes to learning knowledge.


This strange effect is caused by the belief that learning is an easy process. For example, it is simple to understand the basic principles of science, but it takes far more effort to understand the deeper, more complex pieces of knowledge to become an expert in the field. However, people are deluded into thinking that the time required for a beginner to become an amateur is equal to the time for an amateur to become an expert. This can be easily explained through the analogy of a role-playing game, where “levelling”, or gaining more experience, is much easier in the earlier levels compared to much later. For example, the time taken to go from level 1 to 30 may be equal to the time taken to go from level 30 to 33.

The Dunning-Kruger effect scientifically explains the proverbial frog in the well (who believes he is the best, not knowing that there is a bigger world). Also, this effect extends to those who are actually skilled, as it causes them to believe they are not as skilled and rather underestimate themselves. This is often due to them understanding that it is much more difficult to master a skill and that they are “nowhere near” that point. 

These two factors combine to produce a strange paradox where the less skilled are less likely to believe they are incompetent and rate themselves as more skilled than the expert. This is frequently seen on the internet or during debates and arguments.

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