Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Illusion of Competence

This may explain why Duke's Lit Department has a "Political Economy" Program.

Or why I think I am really, really good at Putt-Putt Golf.  That sort of thing.

The Curse of Expertise: When More Knowledge Leads to Miscalibrated Explanatory Insight 

Matthew Fisher & Frank Keil
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Does expertise within a domain of knowledge predict accurate self-assessment of the ability to explain topics in that domain? We find that expertise increases confidence in the ability to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, this confidence is unwarranted; after actually offering full explanations, people are surprised by the limitations in their understanding. For passive expertise (familiar topics), miscalibration is moderated by education; those with more education are accurate in their self-assessments (Experiment 1). But when those with more education consider topics related to their area of concentrated study (college major), they also display an illusion of understanding (Experiment 2). This “curse of expertise” is explained by a failure to recognize the amount of detailed information that had been forgotten (Experiment 3). While expertise can sometimes lead to accurate self-knowledge, it can also create illusions of competence.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.


W.E. Heasley said...

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

Simon Spero said...

Depending on what << topics related to their area of concentrated study (college major)>> means, this could be an interesting result.

Since the phrase "topics related to" is one I have studied in great depth, I have extremely high confidence in my lack of understanding.

I would not usually consider an undergraduate degree in a field to confer expertise...

Angus said...

Mungo, you ARE/WERE really good at putt-putt. just not as good as you thought!

stan said...

Embrace ignorance and humility. Fortunately, ignorance (the source of all knowledge) is unlimited in supply. Unfortunately, humility is not.