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What is the Dunning-Kruger effect

Duning Kruger study

Many people tend to under or overestimate their abilities. There are many reasons people can underestimate their skills and abilities, for instance, low self-esteem, high expectations, depending to whom a person compares himself, and many more.
There are also many reasons people overestimate their abilities too, for example – people with low self-esteem or people that do not like to accept criticism of their work. Social psychologists have been trying to collect and test different types of data.

They have wanted to find out whether there is a connection between your competence and the level of confidence you have about completing a certain task. Many people would probably expect that the more knowledge and experience you have, the more confident you feel about a specific activity. However, the study has hypothesized a little bit different results.

Who are David Dunning and Justin Kruger

David Dunning is an American social psychologist and a professor of psychology. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and commentaries. He is also the executive officer of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the foundation for Personality and Social Psychology.
He has served as an associate editor of the Journal of Personality and social psychology. He has B.A. from Michigan State University and Ph. D. from Stanford University. He is one of the co-authors of the study that showed that competence and confidence were not connected as anybody would expect.


Justin Kruger is also an American social psychologist and professor. He has B.S. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology. He is also the co-author of the Dunning-Kruger study, which showed that certain people tend to consider themselves better at a task than they actually are.

What is the 1999 Dunning-Kruger study

Dunning-Kruger graph

The study named “Unskilled and Unaware of it: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to inflated Self-Assessments”, has been done in 1999. The hypothesis was that there is an illusion of superiority in people. A bank robbery event has been one of the major reasons for the bias. In that example a person robbed banks, and he has covered his face with lemon juice, which he considered would make hidden for the cameras.
The study suggests that a lot of the incorrect self-assessment of a person’s competence on a subject comes from the ignorance of the standards of performance in that area.
Dunning also wrote that people generally lack the ability to recognize their low level of expertise on a certain subject.

What is competence

Competence means that a person has experience and knowledge on a certain topic or activity. They have high level of understanding of the topic and have perfected their skills so that they can perform the task with great efficiency and high performance.
A competent person might be considered an expert in their field, as they need to spend a lot of time learning the topic, having experience in the task itself, and have interest in that category.

What is confidence

Confident people are often an example of a person with knowledge and skill sets. It means that they are sure of their skills and have enough experience on particular topic.
Confident people tend to have trust in themselves and their skill set. Self-confidence is used often in self assurance in one’s judgement and knowledge. Confidence increases with experience and information and understanding.