Skilled or Unskilled, But Still Unaware of it: How Perceptions of Difficulty Drive Miscalibration in Relative Comparisons

Posted: 12 May 2006

See all articles by Katherine Alicia Burson

Katherine Alicia Burson

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Richard P. Larrick

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Joshua Klayman

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

People are inaccurate judges of how their abilities compare to others'. Kruger and Dunning (1999; 2002) argue that most inaccuracy is attributable to unskilled performers' lack of metacognitive skill to evaluate their performance. They overestimate their standing, whereas skilled performers accurately predict theirs. Consequently, the majority of people believe they are above average. However, not all tasks show this bias. In a series of ten tasks across three studies, we show that moderately difficult tasks produce little overall bias and little difference in accuracy between best and worst performers, and that more difficult tasks produce a negative bias, making the worst performers appear more accurate in their judgments. This pattern suggests that judges at all skill levels are subject to similar degrees of inaccuracy and bias. Although differences in metacognitive ability may play a role in the accuracy of interpersonal comparisons, our results indicate that, for the most part, the skilled and the unskilled are equally unaware of how their performances compare to those of others.

Keywords: skills, performance, perception

JEL Classification: J29

Suggested Citation

Burson, Katherine Alicia and Larrick, Richard P. and Klayman, Joshua, Skilled or Unskilled, But Still Unaware of it: How Perceptions of Difficulty Drive Miscalibration in Relative Comparisons. Ross School of Business Paper No. 956, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901795

Katherine Alicia Burson (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Richard P. Larrick

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/faculty/alpha/larrick.htm

Joshua Klayman

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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