What is Dunning Kruger’s Effect

What is Dunning Kruger’s Effect


Whether you are a student, you sing or you dance, do photography or any other job, you come across some people who actually have less knowledge but are overconfident about their skills in a particular field and consider themselves as experts, this is known as Dunning Kruger’s effect.It's a form of cognitive bias in which people think they're smarter and more capable than they are. 


Talking about Dunning Kruger’s effect and not mentioning McArthur Wheeler is a bit unfair because he is the reason for its existence. On 19th April 1995, McArthur Wheeler showed immense courage and robbed two banks in Pittsburgh at gunpoint without hiding his face, smiling towards the surveillance camera and this courage led him in police custody where he was shocked to see the CCTV footage. The words that came out of his mouth were, “How visible I wore lemon juice on my face”.


Lemon Juice is referred to as invisible ink because of the presence of carbon. After coming in contact with air it turns light or dark brown dye oxidation.


Considering the above mentioned fact McArthur applied the ‘Invisible Ink’ on his face believing his face turned invisible.


Funny and foolish though it seems, police after conducting several tests concluded that neither Arthur is mad nor on drugs, the only thing he did was overestimating his knowledge.


The incident got really famous and grabbed the attention of two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger as they started their research on how a person can believe in such a silly thing and got to know about the tendency of the brain. The two psychologists thus carried out an experiment. They divided students of their college in four groups and tested them on three subjects: Grammar, logic and humor. Further asking them to award marks in each subject and rank themselves.


They observed that the students getting lower ranks in each group and subject were the students who overestimated themselves in those subjects.


Apart from this, several experiments have been carried out and it is seen that people having lesser skills and knowledge in a particular field overestimate their knowledge and consider themselves smarter.


The cognitive bias was then named after the two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger as Dunning Kruger effect in 1999.


A very interesting behavioural tendency was seen that the people who are actually experts of a particular field underestimate their skills and knowledge.


Why this bias arises can be answered as when one lacks knowledge of a field he/she isn’t certainly aware how vast and deep the field is and he/she tends to overestimates himself/herself on that point size knowledge. For example: An Uncle in your colony beats everyone in the game of badminton so he tends himself to be an expert without getting trained or played professionally. Is he really an expert?


On the other hand a person having deep knowledge and skills about a field is certain about how vast and deep that particular field is and what skills he/she possesses, hence they underestimate themselves.


Causes of Dunning Kruger Effect


What is the reason some people overestimate their abilities?


Dunning Kruger effect is possessed by Dual Burden which is associated with having a low expertise in the subject given. If there is no expertise, the performance will be low. It will also be hard knowing your performance with a lack of expertise.


People who are incompatible usually tend to overestimate their skills, not able to recognise the genuine skills and expertise of the other people and they are not able to recognise their own mistakes.


Read more:


Child Discipline


Ptsd In The Workplace


Why Set Boundaries Within Marriage And Relationships According To Marriage Counsellors