By the end of last century Justin Kruger and David Dunning wrote and published their famous work entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Their paper was published by the American Psychological Association in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and had many follow ups since.
The cognitive bias tackled in the article was later named after the authors as the Dunning-Kruger Effect (DKE). The concept found strong resonance in psychological circles and even found its way to the general public.
Not as famous as it should be – the graph below, demonstrating DKE – is plotting level of experience and confidence consecutively on X and Y axis. It’s quite self explanatory and fun to read.
(Note it’s not exactly a plot of the source data from the Dunning and Kruger’s original work, it’s purely illustrative but gives the right picture, in approachable form.)
Now to draw a parallel to what’s currently going on in social media, with a strong emphasis on LinkedIn. We’ve been witnessing an explosion of articles about remote work, cooperation in disperse environments and management of such framework. Often authors had little to do with the business concept of remote work, tools that enable it, implications of putting both to work and on the mode of managing such setup. It didn’t stop them from taking a noble tone of someone experienced or at least somehow competent in the field.
Thinking of this I recalled my kids and their common route of learning. It’s always mimicking first and understanding later. This never fails. First they repeat, experimenting with the resonance it generates – so they can understand, in practice, adjust and re approach with higher chance of succeeding (in whatever is the enterprise of a moment.) It might be the very same mechanism, although it’s much more embarrassing for an adult to realize that they do alike.
Funny as it is, at times I am totally aware being an active subject of this phenomenon. It is though very healthy to get to know the specifics of our mental mechanics. It’s also healthy to occasionally bring one’s inflated ego down a notch.