Why it’s hard to tell when high-class people are incompetent
A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."
- The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
- Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
- However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
People who come from high social classes are more likely to overestimate their abilities. That's not exactly shocking. But a new study reveals something a bit less intuitive: This overconfidence is often misinterpreted by others as genuine competence, even when the high-class individual is demonstrably average.
It's a phenomenon that could be perpetuating social hierarchies, and researchers suggest it might stem from high-class individuals' desire to gain social status.
"It can provide them a path to social advantage by making them appear more competent in the eyes of others," wrote the authors of the study, published Monday in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study involved four experiments:
Study 1 – High class, high confidence
This large field study involved about 151,000 small-business owners in Mexico who were applying for a loan. In what appeared to them to be part of the loan process, each applicant was asked to rate how well they think they performed compared to others on a memory game, designed to predict whether applicants will default on a loan. Results showed that higher-class people outperformed other groups, but not by as much as they thought they did.
Study 2 – Overconfidence and the desire to gain social rank
This experiment had several aims, but its main goal was to test whether the overconfidence of higher-class people is linked to a desire to rise in social rank. After submitting demographic and socioeconomic information, online participants took a test they were told would measure their mental abilities. Higher-class people were, again, more overconfident than others. But more importantly, according to the researchers, it showed that, "participants with relatively high social class had a stronger desire for social rank, which, in turn, was associated with more overconfidence."
Study 3 – Overconfident (and average) in trivia games
In this trivia-game experiment, higher-class people again overestimated their abilities compared to the rest of the participants. Study 3 also replicated the prior findings showing that high-class people have a stronger desire to climb the social ladder, a trait that's associated with more overconfidence.
Study 4 – Overconfidence pays out
This mock-interview experiment was designed to see whether overconfidence led to social advantages. The student participants were each videotaped as they answered one interview question. Then, a group of strangers evaluated each candidate. In general, high-class participants who were overconfident in their abilities were rated more favorably than their peers by independent judges. The implication: Overconfidence seems to pay out in the social world.
'Fake it 'til you make it'
So, do these results suggest you should "fake it 'til you make it"? Not quite. The researchers wrote that "overconfidence is believed to be a significant underlying cause for many organizational and societal catastrophes, such as wars, strikes, litigation, entrepreneurial failures, and stock market bubbles."
What's more, different cultures and social classes may have varying attitudes toward overconfidence, as lead study author Peter Belmi told The New York Times:
"I grew up in the Philippines with the idea that if you have nothing to say, just shut up and listen."
- Research: When Overconfidence Is an Asset, and When It's a Liability ›
- Behavioral CEOs: The Role of Managerial Overconfidence ›
- Behavioral Finance: Key Concepts - Overconfidence ›
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Beyond Beef sizzles and marbleizes just like real beef, Beyond Meat says.
- Shares of Beyond Meat opened at around $200 on Tuesday morning, falling to nearly $170 by the afternoon.
- Wall Street analysts remain wary of the stock, which has been on a massive hot streak since its IPO in May.
- Beyond Meat faces competition from Impossible Foods and, as of this week, Tyson.
The most valuable college majors will prepare students for a world right out a science fiction novel.
- The future of work is going to require a range of skills learned that take into account cutting edge advancements in technology and science.
- The most valuable college majors in the future will prepare students for new economies and areas of commerce.
- Mathematics, engineering and science related educational majors will become an ubiqitous feature of the new job market.
A recent study used data from the Big Five personality to estimate psychopathy prevalence in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.
- The study estimated psychopathy prevalence by looking at the prevalence of certain traits in the Big Five model of personality.
- The District of Columbia had the highest prevalence of psychopathy, compared to other areas.
- The authors cautioned that their measurements were indirect, and that psychopathy in general is difficult to define precisely.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.