Confidence is a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective.
Self-confidence is having confidence in one’s self. And while many of us might be struggling when it comes to self-confidence, we are sometimes too self-confident! Yes, that is right, we are too self-confident and this is influencing our actions and social behavior.
And quite frankly: it is making us look ridiculous! It is all cognitive biases’ fault!
The first thing that is making us look stupid is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability believe they are superior to others.
A good example is a research where 80% of people evaluated their driving skills as above average. That is some average, ha?
We make this mistake because it is hard for us to evaluate ourselves rationally, and because we all have some holes in our knowledge. Having holes means we are unable to see the situation clearly because we are lacking crucial information, and explains why we might feel we are doing better than average people.
On the other side we have experts. Experts are people who have more knowledge than an average person, which enables them to see just how much they still have to learn and improve.
So Dunning-Kruger Effect is connecting two groups of people: experts who tend to underrate their skills, and a lot of dumbass who overestimate their abilities.
And of course, we can all be an expert in one field and a dumbass in the other.
Nevermind in which group we are, there is another bias we have to deal with to keep our confidence in control.
The Self-Serving Bias. This is a cognitive bias where we ascribe our success to our own abilities and efforts and our failure to the external factors.
How it works? We focus on our strengths and achievements, and overlook our faults and failures, and ignore negative feedback. When working in a group, we take more responsibility for our group’s work than we give to other members.
We do it to protect our self-esteem and our ego from threat and injury. These cognitive and perceptual tendencies reinforce illusions and error and we can find them in interpersonal relationships, workplace, sports and customer decisions.
In classroom good grade means we are smart and always prepared, bad grade means bitchy teacher and unfair testing.
It is not easy to be aware of all of these biases all the time and it is not vital either, already knowing that we have them and trying to look at ourselves more rationally can help us build up a real self-confidence and not a biased one.