psychology

More on Dunning-Kruger: the gap between confidence and competence

A few weeks ago I posted a brief mention of the Dunning-Kruger effect – a psychological phenomena whereby the victim does not realise they are too dumb to know what they don’t know… or something like that. This is a great interview with the Dunning from Dunning-Kryger:

If you knew it, you’d say, “Wait a minute. The decision I just made does not make much sense. I had better go and get some independent advice.” But when you’re incompetent, the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is. In logical reasoning, in parenting, in management, problem solving, the skills you use to produce the right answer are exactly the same skills you use to evaluate the answer. And so we went on to see if this could possibly be true in many other areas. And to our astonishment, it was very, very true.

And here’s a funny story illustrating the issue (which will doubtless make a good sermon illustration)… from the same article.

“Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

In a follow-up article, Fuoco spoke to several Pittsburgh police detectives who had been involved in Wheeler’s arrest. Commander Ronald Freeman assured Fuoco that Wheeler had not gone into “this thing” blindly but had performed a variety of tests prior to the robbery. Sergeant Wally Long provided additional details — “although Wheeler reported the lemon juice was burning his face and his eyes, and he was having trouble (seeing) and had to squint, he had tested the theory, and it seemed to work.” He had snapped a Polaroid picture of himself and wasn’t anywhere to be found in the image. It was like a version of Where’s Waldo with no Waldo. Long tried to come up with an explanation of why there was no image on the Polaroid. He came up with three possibilities:

(a) the film was bad;

(b) Wheeler hadn’t adjusted the camera correctly; or

(c) Wheeler had pointed the camera away from his face at the critical moment when he snapped the photo.[2]

As Dunning read through the article, a thought washed over him, an epiphany. If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.”

Why do people play Farmville?

Farmville is boring. I’m proud I gave it up (remind yourself why). If you’re one of the 75 million people who regularly play Farmville – here’s a description of what you’re actually doing (from a broader exploration of why you, and your ilk, are doing it too).

Farmville is not a good game. While Caillois [an author of a book on gaming] tells us that games offer a break from responsibility and routine, Farmville is defined by responsibility and routine. Users advance through the game by harvesting crops at scheduled intervals; if you plant a field of pumpkins at noon, for example, you must return to harvest at eight o’clock that evening or risk losing the crop. Each pumpkin costs thirty coins and occupies one square of your farm, so if you own a fourteen by fourteen farm a field of pumpkins costs nearly six thousand coins to plant. Planting requires the user to click on each square three times: once to harvest the previous crop, once to re-plow the square of land, and once to plant the new seeds. This means that a fourteen by fourteen plot of land—which is relatively small for Farmville—takes almost six hundred mouse-clicks to farm, and obligates you to return in a few hours to do it again. This doesn’t sound like much fun, Mr. Caillois. Why would anyone do this?

 if Farmville is laborious to play and aesthetically boring, why are so many people playing it? The answer is disarmingly simple: people are playing Farmville because people are playing Farmville.

Here’s the rub. This is why you keep feeling compelled to play a stupid game. It’s social psychology.

“The secret to Farmville’s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies. As the French sociologist Marcel Mauss tells us, gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity. “

Read the essay. It just might change your life.

Have your sweets, and eat it two

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.

When I have children this is going to be part of the daily dining ritual. This is an apparently famous little social experiment. The kids get two marshmallows if they can not eat the first one for a few minutes.

I reckon the game would be more fun if you didn’t let the kid have the first marshmallow after they waited. That would be a life lesson.

I also want to teach my children that red is blue – like one of my friends did to her little brother (I can’t remember the colours she used).

Psych out

I have to have a psychological test. All candidates for ministry have to go through a pretty rigorous vetting procedure.

It’s going to be fun. I hope there are ink blots.

Ultimately, wanting to go into Presbyterian Ministry seems to be the ultimate Catch 22 situation. The literal Catch 22 situation. As described by the novel that coined the phrase. Just slightly reversed – you have to be crazy to want to get in. Here’s the summary from Wikipedia

The “Catch 22” is that “anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy”. Hence, pilots who request an evaluation are sane and must therefore fly in combat, but those who don’t request an evaluation don’t receive one and as a result can never be found insane, meaning they must also fly in combat. Catch-22, then, ensures that no pilot can ever be grounded for being insane – even if they are.

Sport’s psychology

Great little article from Paul Sheehan at the SMH on the way the sports invented by a country speaks to its culture and the psychology of its populace…

Can you imagine the Americans coming up with a game where the score was commonly 0-0 or 1-0? Or inventing a game that could be played over five days, with numerous meal breaks, and end in a draw?

It’s actually a promo for the Superbowl, this year featuring an Australian. While Sheehan seems to be lauding the excitement contained in US sport he neglects to mention that the Superbowl is essentially two coaches playing chess with the pieces wearing body armour. Chess has built in timed pauses  in which the players make their moves. The superbowl is the same, only the pauses also allow advertisers to get the best bang for their buck.

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