The 'illusion of knowledge' that makes people overconfident - Deepstash
Managing Perfectionism

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Managing Perfectionism

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Illusion of knowledge

Illusion of knowledge

If you consider yourself reasonably intelligent and educated, you might assume that you have a fair grasp on the core ways the world works - knowledge about the familiar inventions and natural phenomena that surround us. However, it's quite likely you know less than you think.

 This bias is known as an “illusion of knowledge”. This can afflict our judgment in many domains. In the workplace, for example, it can lead us to overclaim our knowledge in an interview, overlook the contributions of our colleagues and take on jobs we may be wholly unable to perform.


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The illusion of skill acquisition

Many of us overestimate how much we can learn by observing others - resulting in the illusion of skill acquisition.

Passive observation can even increase people's confidence in their abilities to perform complex life-or-death tasks. For example, one study found that people thought they would score a greater number of points if they watched a video 20 times compared to watching it once. But their actual performance did not show any evidence of learning.


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Real-life dilemmas

  • Overconfidence in your knowledge may mean that you prepare less for an interview or presentation, for example, leaving you embarrassed when you are pressed to demonstrate your expertise.
  • It may also lead us to undervalue our colleagues.
  • If we start to claim our colleagues' knowledge as our own, we may be less likely to remember and show gratitude for their contributions.
  • One solution is to test yourself. Test yourself by consciously recognizing your mental blank.


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