How Well Do You Know Your Friend?
You think you know your friend well—the kinds of things they enjoy doing? Well, think again. In this exhibit, you’ll get a glimpse into the consequences of overconfidence.
In this exhibit, you’ll play a game with a friend or partner. One person (the responder) marks down how much they enjoy different activities. Then the other person (the guesser) tries to predict the responder’s answers. The format will feel similar to other question-and-answer games, but the results may surprise you.
When we have a strong impression of someone, it’s easy to mistake general intuition for detailed knowledge about their specific beliefs and preferences. For example, thinking that someone is outdoorsy is not the same as knowing how much they like camping in particular. Settling for “close enough” is often fine, but it can trick us into thinking we have all the right answers.
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The Science behind the Experiment
Overconfidence is one of the most pervasive and dangerous biases because it keeps us from knowing our limits, leads us to make rash decisions, and prevents us from recognizing our mistakes.
- Eyal, T., Steffel, M., & Epley, N. (2018). Perspective mistaking: Accurately understanding the mind of another requires getting perspective, not taking perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(4), 547.
- Klayman, J., Soll, J. B., Gonzalez-Vallejo, C., & Barlas, S. (1999). Overconfidence: It depends on how, what, and whom you ask. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 79(3), 216-247.
- Kardas, M., & O’Brien, E. (2018). Easier seen than done: Merely watching others perform can foster an illusion of skill acquisition. Psychological Science, 29(4), 521–36.
- Massey, C., & Thaler, R. (2005). Overconfidence vs. market efficiency in the National Football League. NBER Working Paper No. w11270.
- Thaler, R. H., & Klein, D. G. (2010). The Overconfidence Problem in Forecasting. New York Times, August 21, 2010.