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Inverse Dunning-Kruger Effect

Chatting with a smart colleague at the office last week, I was startled by how much she was clearly underestimating (and over-criticizing) herself. She thanked me for a small compliment, for relaying the high opinion that other people hold of her work. Maybe the Dunning-Kruger Effect — the tendency of ignorant or less-intelligent people to overestimate their own abilities (see Meta-Ignorance) — has an inverse (or converse, or contrapositive?) side. Super-competent people, at least in my observation, often seem to underestimate their strengths. Maybe it's angst or psychological insecurity? Or a result of over-work by folks whose brilliance has been noticed by others and who, therefore, get assigned more tasks to do? Or do they suffer from a real error of self-evaluation? Are they comparing themselves only to the tiny number of super-super experts, whom they look up to? In the cases I've observed the effect doesn't seem to be feigned self-deprecation or false modesty. Hmmmmm ...

(cf. Illusory Superiority and the Tal Yarkoni 2010 essay on perhaps-related themes, ...) - ^z - 2014-02-12