Searching the Internet Creates an Illusion of Personal Knowledge
Searching the internet gives people an inflated sense of knowledge, according to a recent study.
After doing a cursory internet search on a topic, do you feel like an expert?
As it turns out, most people do, according to Matthew Fisher who led the study "Searching for Explanations: How the Internet Inflates Estimates of Internal Knowledge" published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
He explained how our self-proclaimed intelligence can become inflated in a press release:
“It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the internet."
In this internet society many of us don't require expertise in much of anything nowadays, just the ability to filter and search for the right information. Good research skills are what's in high demand these days and the ability to access this external knowledge may lead us to believe we're more knowledgeable.
Fisher and his team of researchers tested this idea in nine separate experiments that included anywhere from 152 to 302 participants in an online survey. In one of the experiments, one group was asked to research four questions, such as, "How does a zipper work?" and to provide the link that they thought supplied the best answer. Meanwhile, a control group was asked to read a text document about how zippers work, for example.
Then the two groups were asked to rate their ability to answer unrelated questions, such as "Why are cloudy nights warmer?" But they didn't have to answer those questions.
The researchers were astonished at the results: The internet search group consistently rated themselves as more knowledgeable than the control group. An interesting result to say the least.
It seems the internet has a kind of ego-boosting effect when it comes to how we perceive our own intelligence when we're in “search mode.” But it's not just internet access that gives us this inflated sense of self. Science Daily writes, “When the internet group members were given a particular website link to answer questions, they didn't report higher levels of personal knowledge on the unrelated topics than the control group.”
It's this active “search mode” that turns us on.
"If you don't know the answer to a question, it's very apparent to you that you don't know, and it takes time and effort to find the answer. With the internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know."
In this case, people may have trouble distinguishing between real, acquired knowledge and assumed expertise.
Read more at Science Daily.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
As for the future of internet searches, Microsoft Senior Director of Search Stefan Weitz thinks that search will become as dated as someone saying "I'm going to get online." He believes search will become naturally integrated into our systems the way our browsers and the internet are so seamlessly a part of our computing experience:
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According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.
Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.
By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:
Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.
Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.
McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.
It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.
But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.
Read more at LinkedIn.
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