I bet you can think of someone like this…
It is the person who is so very confident in their ideas or opinions that they are incapable (or perhaps unwilling) to see that there may in fact be flaws in their perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, confidence is a highly valuable character trait, and one that can serve you well. However, too much of it without the ability to self-reflect can lead to something called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
THIS is something we all need to be aware of.
Two Psychology researchers from Cornell University produced a paper in 1999 that tested participants on logic, grammar and sense of humour.
What stood out most from the study was that the participants who performed most poorly, actually rated themselves above average.
The researchers determined this was due to those participants lacking the ability to effectively analyse their own thoughts or performance (metacognition). This inability is compounded when the domain they are being tested on is not a strength of theirs. So, the outcome is that they make mistakes and errors but their inability to recognise this means they continue on, believing themselves to be right. Ultimately leading to them not learning or developing beyond where they are currently.
What should we take away from the Dunning-Kruger effect?
Perhaps the most important take away is that self-reflection and the ability to step back from our ideas and consider them more deeply is not only important, but essential.
If we want to become better than we are today, we have to be willing to entertain the thought that we might be wrong.
Confidence is so highly prized that people will pretend to be smart or skilled rather than risk looking inadequate. If this behaviour is repeated often enough, it can become a pattern which becomes a belief. At this point, the over confident but under-skilled person is most definitely falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect.
As the year draws to an end, which is often a time of contemplation and looking to the future, perhaps now is a great time for some self-reflection.
What approaches to patient care are you sure of?
Could there be some merit in a different point of view?
What long held beliefs do you stand by, but have not perhaps challenged in recent times?
Is there new information that you haven’t yet considered?
Which of your skills do you feel are your strongest?
Could there still be room for you to grow? And how could you grow?
Effective self-reflection can be hard. It can be really useful to find someone you trust and feel safe being vulnerable with, and ask them to challenge your ideas or beliefs. You can both listen to your responses to their questions, and see if you can find any holes in your perspective.
Professional development is what we are all about at ACE. We exist to help others become better at what they do. But we too need to ensure we self-reflect and examine our own biases and beliefs. This is something we take very seriously as we continuously develop and improve our resources for you all.
For those of you who have been following us for some time and consuming our content both in person and online, I imagine that you have seen our opinions and information change over time… Or at least I hope you have seen that.
Our opinions SHOULD change over time, as this is a sign that we are developing a deeper understanding and taking on new information. The danger is when we become unwilling to change because our ego is so tied up with the perception that what we have said before must be right.
In this holiday period, let’s all take the time to step back from our long held beliefs and ideas, and see if there is any room for growth or a difference in perspective.
Happy New Year everyone!