Are the Unskilled Really That Unaware? Understanding Seemingly Biased Self-Assessments
The so-called unskilled-and-unaware problem was experimentally identified a decade ago: The unskilled are seemingly afflicted by a double curse because they also seem unaware of their (relative) lack of skills. Numerous authors have elaborated on this problem – experimentally as well as theoretically. In this paper, we report on the results of three experiments (one field, two laboratory) through which we test a theoretical model and some informal extensions. Specifically, we examine the impact of general information and specific information (feedback) on the quality of self-assessment (“calibration”) in various tasks and under various conditions. Overconfidence behavior initially prevails in almost all settings. We find a strong positive effect of general information on calibration, and show that calibration improves more when feedback is provided. In our experiments, it is the unskilled who improve their calibration the most.
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