The Dunning-Kruger effect is quite common in society, in fact, it is more than likely that you have seen it in close people or even in yourself at some time. This occurs when people think they are smarter than they really are. They are usually people who do not have the necessary skills to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own abilities.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

You have surely experienced the Dunning-Kruger effect in real life, for example while on vacation with friends or at a family gathering. Perhaps a friend or family member begins to talk about a topic that they verify is true and do not accept the opinion of others … that they consider to be misinformed or wrong. For the people who are listening to the speaker, they know that he does not have much idea of ​​what he is speaking although he keeps doing it oblivious to his own ignorance.

The effect is named after researchers David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the two social psychologists who first described it. It was they who, through some research, realized that this phenomenon was more common than was initially thought in society.


According to Dunning and Kruger this phenomenon stems from what they call a “dual charge”. According to them, people are not only incompetent; their incompetence robs them of the mental capacity to realize how inept they are. People under this effect usually:

    • Overestimating your own skill levels
    • Failing to acknowledge the skill or experience of other people
    • Not admitting to their own mistakes
  • Failing to acknowledge their own lack of ability

According to these authors, deficiencies in skill and experience create a double problem. First, these deficits cause people to perform poorly in the domain in which they are incompetent. Second, their erroneous and deficient knowledge makes them unable to recognize their mistakes .

Difficulties in metacognition

The Dunning-Kruger effect is also related to difficulties with metacognition, or the ability to step back and observe one’s behavior and abilities from outside oneself, that is, with perspective.

People can often only evaluate themselves from their own limited and highly subjective point of view. From this limited perspective, they appear to be highly skilled, knowledgeable, and superior to others. Because of this, people sometimes struggle to get a more realistic view of their own abilities.

A little knowledge can lead to overconfidence

Another contributing factor is that sometimes a little knowledge about a topic can lead people to mistakenly believe that they know everything there is to know about it. As the old saying goes, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A person may have the slightest knowledge of a subject, but thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, he thinks he is an expert.

Other factors that may contribute to the effect include our use of mental heuristics or shortcuts that allow us to make decisions quickly, and our tendency to look for patterns even when they don’t exist. The human mind is primed to try to make sense of the wide variety of information that we deal with on a daily basis. As you try to eliminate confusion and interpret your own abilities and performance within your individual world, it is perhaps not surprising that sometimes you completely fail to accurately judge how well you do … It takes a little honesty and sense. common, in addition to humility so that this effect does not affect you and above all, you do not make a fool of yourself while talking to other people. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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