What is Dunning Kruger Syndrome?

The Dunning Kruger syndrome or effect is characterized by the inability of some people to be aware of their incompetence or ineptitude.

Is a Cognitive distortion By which a person who actually has little ability to perform an activity, thinks that he has a lot. Even more than some experts. On the contrary people who are competent have a tendency to underestimate their abilities and abilities.


One of the painful things of our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with some imagination and understanding are full Of doubt and indecision Bertrand Russell.

Ignorance often provides more confidence than knowledge.-Charles Darwin.

From time to time, you will hear insults, judgments or advice from people who have not even asked for an opinion and who do not have much judgment. You will also see people who think they have a lot of skill and are actually below average.

Today I'm going to talk about a psychological effect and the behavior that had been suspecting a while... And finally I confirmed it by informing me almost by chance.

Sometimes I wondered why I get the feeling that people who have less idea of ​​something, talk more or become more aware? How could he say such nonsense feeling so sure? How could he possibly think he has such skill if he is a beginner?

Last week there was a guy in my salsa class who said he already had an almost professional level and that he was going to start attending competitions.

Perhaps it is an exaggerated case, but in reality it is easy to see these cases in everyday life; In groups of friends, in the family, university, work...

You can also watch them in the media. For example, there is a footballer named Mario Balotelli - who is somewhat above average - and who said he was the best in the world. And in actors:

"If I were just smart, that would be fine. But I'm fiercely intelligent, which people find very threatening."- Sharon Stone.

"People around the world recognize me as a great spiritual leader."- Steven Seagal.

While one of the great geniuses of history, Albert Einstein said

"It's not that I'm very intelligent, I've been with the problems for a long time."

Of course, politicians can be their maximum exponent (the Spaniards who try to speak in English or in Valencian...).

And even in comedies. Is there a greater exponent than Torrent? For those who do not know, it is a totally incompetent detective who believes that he is in shape and is the best in his profession.

Surely you have someone to tell me. I encourage you to comment in the comments section.

As this common effect has an explanation and is called the Effect"Dunning-Kruger" .

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

This effect is due to the inability of some people to recognize their own ineptitude.

It is a cognitive bias by which people who have little ability, knowledge or less intelligence, are considered superior in ability, knowledge or intelligence than others.

On the other hand, people who are really competent, intelligent and skillful tend to underestimate their abilities. That is, they believe that the tasks and skills that are simple for them, are also for other people.

As their researchers say, David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University:

"The bad measure of the incompetent one is due to an error on itself, whereas the bad measure of the competent one is due to an error about the others".

Other behaviors predicted by these researchers are:

  • Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own ability.
  • Incompetent individuals are unable to recognize the ability of others.
  • Incompetent individuals are unable to recognize their extreme inadequacy.
  • If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and accept their lack of prior skills.

Too little knowledge can be dangerous

This effect seems to be pronounced the more knowledge or skill one has of something.

The more you study or the more knowledge you have, the more aware you are of what you have left to know. Hence the" I only know that I know nothing "Of Socrates.

On the other hand, people who know very little or have little ability are not aware of everything they do not know and hence it can be dangerous.

A clear exponent are the politicians. How can they make such mistakes in public and do things so badly?

In Spain there have been cases of politicians speaking at important events in Spanglish, who say that someone is not poor because he has twitter or that invent words in Valencian.


In fact, the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to the whole world, not just the foolish. It is a human cognitive bias and applies to all.

That is, when we have little competition in anything, we all tend to believe that we have more of the real. What is certain is that some people continue to improve their level of ability, while others stop or act in complicated, compromised or important situations when they should have continued to improve...


The solution is critical thinking, using a process of logical thinking and, above all, humility.

In addition to critical thinking, self-assessment is a skill we should all develop.

And as Socrates said:

"The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing."

Guided by that principle, you will never stop learning.

And what do you think? Do you think of this effect? Do you know of cases of people who screw up believing they know too much? I am interested in your opinion. Thanks!


JJ de la Gándara Martín (2012). Psychosomatic medicine notebooks - dialnet.unirioja.es




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