Dunning–Kruger Effect

Nov 22 / Network Capital


The Dunning–Kruger Effect is the inability to understand one’s lack of knowledge and gaps in understanding that perpetuate an illusion of superiority. A lack of metacognition (thinking about thinking) leads to a handicapped cognition (thinking). Being incompetent makes you too incompetent to recognize how incompetent you are.

Subscribe to read more

Just as no one person has all the knowledge in the world, each person has something unique that only they know well. Therefore, a major part of human endeavour is to identify and refine that unique knowledge. The Dunning–Kruger Effect forms a major hurdle to the process of identification and refinement of this unique knowledge. Coined by the psychologist duo, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the aforementioned term is a form of cognitive bias that prevents people from recognizing their own ineptness and instead creates an illusion of competence.

According to Professor Dunning,

[t]he knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recog- nize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task.

To avoid the trappings of the Dunning–Kruger Effect, reflections and metacognition are the most powerful tools. They help develop practices of self-evaluation that prevent inaccurate and inflated understanding of self.