The Art Of Thinking Clearly aims to illuminate our day-to-day thinking “hiccups” so that we can better avoid them and start making improved choices. Using both psychological studies and everyday examples, the author provides us with an entertaining collection of all of our most common fallacies.
Do you feel that you have a pretty realistic grasp of your abilities? That, while others might delude themselves into overestimating their abilities, you don’t? If so, you aren’t alone: we all tend to view ourselves through rose-tinted glasses.
Research has shown that we are overconfident in many areas of life.
For example, studies have shown that 84 percent of Frenchmen consider themselves to be above-average lovers. In reality, it’s only possible for 50 percent to be considered “above average,” since, statistically speaking, 50 percent should rank higher and the other half should rank lower.
Similarly, research has shown that 93 percent of US students ranked themselves as “above-average” drivers, and 68 percent of University of Nebraska faculty ranked their own teaching abilities in the top quartile.
These numbers show that the majority of us rate our abilities higher than they probably are.
Not only that, but we also mistakenly attribute successes to our own abilities and failures to external factors.
Researchers even tested this by having a group of subjects take a personality test, and then assigning arbitrary scores to the tests. When the subjects were later interviewed, they found that those with “good” scores believed that the test results had fairly reflected their true abilities, thus successfully assessing their great personalities.
Those who received “bad” scores, however, found the ratings to be useless, and that the test itself ‒ and not their personality ‒ was garbage.
Have you ever had a similar experience? If you got an A on a high school exam, for example, you probably felt that you were responsible for your success. If you flunked, you probably thought that it wasn’t your fault, and that the test was unfair, or some other circumstance caused your failure.
Knowing this, you should therefore be aware of our tendency to overestimate our knowledge and attribute all our success to our own skills. A good way to overcome this might be to invite an honest friend out to coffee and ask for their candid opinion on your strengths and weaknesses.