Saturday, June 18, 2011

Decision Making: Being average

We all seem to make overly strong perceptions of our own personal abilities.

In surveys far more than 50% of people believe that they are:

  • more intelligent than the average person

  • less prejudiced than average

  • more attractive than average

  • etc.

We tend to overestimate our own abilities or view in a more positive light the abilities than we have in a certain area and pay less attention to the abilities in this area in which we are weak.

This is easy to try out for yourself. Choose a random group of people and ask them if they are better or worse drivers than the average person. You will find that most people think they are better than average.

We tend to attribute success in our decisions as being something that happened because of our own personal abilities. We attribute failure to external events.

This tendency makes us also believe that we are better decision makers than the average person. Fortunately we can make some inroads on this bias by asking others how they would evaluate the quality of our decisions. This is something we should try to do often in an unbiased and detached manner to get a better evaluation of the quality of our decisions.


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