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Are the unskilled really that unaware? An alternative explanation

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  • Krajc, Marian
  • Ortmann, Andreas

Abstract

In a series of articles and manuscripts (e.g., [Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1121-1134; Dunning, D., Johnson, K., Ehrlinger, J., & Kruger, J. (2003). Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 83-87; Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K., Banner, M., Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (2008). Why the unskilled are unaware: Further exploration of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105, 98-121.]), Dunning, Kruger and their collaborators argued that the unskilled lack the metacognitive ability to realize their incompetence. We propose that the alleged unskilled-and-unaware problem - rather than being one of biased judgements - is a signal extraction problem that differs for the skilled and the unskilled. Specifically, the unskilled face a tougher inference problem than the skilled.

Suggested Citation

  • Krajc, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2008. "Are the unskilled really that unaware? An alternative explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 724-738, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:29:y:2008:i:5:p:724-738
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David M. Grether & James C. Cox, 1996. "The preference reversal phenomenon: Response mode, markets and incentives (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(3), pages 381-405.
    2. Chu, Yun-Peng & Chu, Ruey-Ling, 1990. "The Subsidence of Preference Reversals in Simplified and Marketlike Experimental Settings: A Note," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 902-911, September.
    3. Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2002. "The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(2), pages 111-131, October.
    4. Ehrlinger, Joyce & Johnson, Kerri & Banner, Matthew & Dunning, David & Kruger, Justin, 2008. "Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 98-121, January.
    5. Rydval, Ondrej & Ortmann, Andreas, 2004. "How financial incentives and cognitive abilities affect task performance in laboratory settings: an illustration," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 315-320, December.
    6. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Feld, Jan & Sauermann, Jan & de Grip, Andries, 2017. "Estimating the relationship between skill and overconfidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 18-24.
    2. Marian Krajc, 2008. "Are the Unskilled Really That Unaware? Understanding Seemingly Biased Self-Assessments," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp373, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. Meeran, Sheik & Goodwin, Paul & Yalabik, Baris, 2016. "A parsimonious explanation of observed biases when forecasting one’s own performance," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 112-120.
    4. Schlösser, Thomas & Dunning, David & Johnson, Kerri L. & Kruger, Justin, 2013. "How unaware are the unskilled? Empirical tests of the “signal extraction” counterexplanation for the Dunning–Kruger effect in self-evaluation of performance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 85-100.
    5. Brookins, Philip & Lucas, Adriana & Ryvkin, Dmitry, 2014. "Reducing within-group overconfidence through group identity and between-group confidence judgments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Ryvkin, Dmitry & Krajč, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2012. "Are the unskilled doomed to remain unaware?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1012-1031.
    7. Pavlo Blavatskyy, 2009. "Betting on own knowledge: Experimental test of overconfidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 39-49, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Calibration Judgement errors Unskilled Unaware Metacognition;

    JEL classification:

    • C46 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Specific Distributions
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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