Confidence is appreciated more from the distance

snobOne of the traits of leaders that make people want to follow them is that they exude confidence. They seem sure of themselves as if they know their way around and have a plan for where they are going. One of the traits that people dislike about their bosses is that they seem “sure of themselves.” According to 2014 Gallup poll, the most frequently cited complaint about work are narcissistic bosses, who assume that they are right .[1] 

Why do we applaud the person who speaks boldly in front of a large group, or in an interview, and then turn around and complain about someone who speaks with the same boldness to us?  

There are reasons this occurs. Most of us have a set of criteria for who has a right to be confident and who does not. We do not necessary tolerate confidence in others that do not resemble us, in appearance, beliefs, social status or any other number of characteristics. Strength of character is perceived is someone who can maintain the status quo if that benefits us, or in a person who brings in change, if that is perceived as beneficial. In our inability to actually judge competence in others objectively we fall back on evaluating the right to be confident based on other superficial traits that don’t require effort to detect.

Others people are more amendable to us when they receiving positive feedback feedback from us. This leads to increased confidence, whether or not this increase is warranted. The people who are overconfident, gain from being so because other people, who have no clue about the other person’s real level of competence, are willing to reward them for just for showing confidence.

Researchers attempting to deal with too much confidence by providing warnings prior to a difficult task or immediate feedback find that unwarranted confidence is a hard habit to break. [2] They find more of the following groups tend to lack well-calibrated judgments concerning their own abilities: Males [3], extroverts [4], optimistic people [5] and those excelling at self-deception, exemplified by the “fake it until you make it” motto [6]. It looks like well over half of humanity has more confidence in their abilities than their actual performance indicates. 

[2] Pulford, B. D., & Colman, A. M. (1997). Overconfidence: Feedback and item difficulty effects. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 125-133 [1]
[3] Barber B, Odean T. Boys will be boys: Gender, overconfidence, and common stock investment. Quart J Econ. 2001; 116: 261–292. doi: 10.1162/003355301556400
[4] Schaefer P, Williams C, Goodie A, Campbell WK. Overconfidence and the Big Five. J Res Person. 2004; 38: 473–480. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2003.09.010
[5] Koellinger P, Treffers T (2015) Joy Leads to Overconfidence, and a Simple Countermeasure. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143263. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0143263
[6] Lamba S, Nityananda V (2014) Self-Deceived Individuals Are Better at Deceiving Others. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104562. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104562
This entry was posted in Gender differences, Leadership, Manipulation, Optimism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Confidence is appreciated more from the distance

  1. knlistman says:

    Reblogged this on Write about what? and commented:

    If you are human, you are probably over confident…

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