The Dunning - Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias where people tend to overestimate their abilities. Studies show that this effect is almost universal, and that those with the least expertise tend to overestimate their abilities the most.

For poker players, this can be a double whammy…

  1. Lack of knowledge leads to making poor decisions.

  2. You can’t recognize that these decisions are mistakes.

In other words, less knowledgeable players lack the expertise to see how badly they are playing.

Here are 2 things you can do to help you overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect…

  1. Ask for feedback and be willing to consider criticism, even if it’s hard to hear.

  2. Keep learning. The more you learn, the fewer invisible gaps you will have.


I should have added that there’s a related effect that’s sometimes included.

Those with top level skills often overestimate the skill of those around them.

I don’t have top level skills, but I have seen this more than once. If you have ever tried repping a hand to someone who doesn’t look past their own cards, you have seen it too.


Besides the fact that they refuse to take constructive criticism from people with more experience and knowledge.


The studies have also shown that this isn’t ego-based.

One of the studies gave the participants a logic test, then gave them a mini-course in logic and asked them to evaluate their original test results. They all freely admitted that their test performances had been terrible.

So the overestimation of one’s own abilities is more a case of not knowing how much you don’t know, not one of ego alone.

Ego can stop a person from getting past the D-K effect, but isn’t the cause of it.


A couple of examples from some of the studies…

One study found that 88% of drivers consider themselves to be above average drivers.

Another one reported that 42% of one company’s computer engineers rated themselves as being in the top 5% of those at that company.


I definitely fall into the category of driving better drunk than most people drive sober… :wink:
The engineer example?..I don’t even understand the equation… :frowning:


Of course :joy:

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Four Stages of Competence (source, Wikipedia)

  1. Unconscious incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.[5]

  1. Conscious incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

  1. Conscious competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.[5]

  1. Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.


Very interesting, thanks for posting!