Nums: 94% of profs rate themselves above average … but, don’t we all?

According to

Since psychological studies first began, people have given themselves top marks for most positive traits.

While most people do well at assessing others, they are wildly positive about their own abilities.

The phenomenon is known as illusory superiority.


Illusory superiority is everywhere

  • In studies, most people overestimate their IQ. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above their peer group average.
  • In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed in the top 5%.
  • Drivers consistently rate themselves as better than average — even when a test of their hazard perception reveals them to be below par.

Ironically, the most incompetent are also the most likely to overestimate their skills, while the ace performers are more likely to underrate themselves.

Psychologists say the illusory superiority happens for several reasons:

  • people don’t usually get honest feedback from others others (who are too polite to say what they really think)
  • incompetent people lack the skills to assess their abilities accurately
  • most positive traits — like being a good driver — are so vaguely defined that there’s plenty of wiggle room
  • self-delusions can actually protect people’s mental health serving as a protective mechanism that shields self-esteem

The remedy for illusory superiority ?

Since people are generally more accurate in assessing other people (than assessing themselves), get — and take to heart — constructive criticism from others.

Yeah, right.

Source: Why We’re All Above Average

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One Response to “Nums: 94% of profs rate themselves above average … but, don’t we all?”

  1. Chris Says:

    That’s a consensus. You can’t question it. The science is settled.

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