Realistic lack of confidence

When confidence is not rewarded…

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Shyness_Of_angel copyMany researchers have duplicated the finding that women are more likely to show less confidence than men. Women are told if they want to make their mark in  any field they need to believe in themselves and show confidence like men do.[1] But that may not be best tactic to pursue.

Research showing disparity of confidence based on gender is frequently structured as follows. Men and women of a similar background or education level are given a task, followed by an inquiry of how well they did. Women typically underestimated their performance. But the average male does not correctly estimated his, either. The majority of men are over confident, assuming that they performed better than they actually did. In research based on math problems, Ernesto Reuben, a professor at Columbia Business School, found men consistently rated work about 30 percent better than their real scores.[2]

This trend also…

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What does being agreeable have to do with over-confidence?

I new look at confidence…

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Chicago phantom 2013 023Did you ever wonder how researchers determine levels of confidence? Typically this research is perform using a population of college students volunteer to take part in psychological tests (sometimes a requirement for a psychology course). To measure confidence, students take a general knowledge test and estimate how well they did. Most of the students are not very accurate at guessing their performance on the tests. Typically 40-50% typically are over confident, and 30 to 40 % are under confident, and the small remaining percentage accurately estimate how well they have answered the questions.

Of course the whole purpose of the test is not to find out how many over confident students exist, but to find the correlation between over or under confidence and some other trait. Sometimes populations are chosen based on this other trait, such as research on gender differences in grades for the same major. These studies  reveal…

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How to be less confident

Confidence is highly overrated…

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Joos_de_Momper_IcarusSearch on Google for information on how to be less confident, and over 90% of the hits will actually be explaining ways to increase your confidence. This does have its perks. According to research from Washington University overconfident managers are more likely to get promoted. Then, they are also more like to make investment decisions that hurt their companies.[1]

Interestingly, research from the business psychology department at the University College London found that males often compensate for lack of competence by showing more confident behavior.[2] Eventually people are going to catch on to this trend. For those of you that already see the handwriting on the wall, you should study how to become less confident.

The ancient Greeks called overconfidence hubris. Hubris had a connotation of harm to it that is not found in current ideas about overconfidence, which we tend to view  as a type of naiveté. But according to…

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Pinning down emotional intelligence

The difficulty with measuring emotional intelligence starts with actually defining it.

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Picture 057If you do any research on testing for Emotional Intelligence, you are likely to run into a couple of names repeatedly. One is Howard Gardner who came up with the idea that there are several types or modalities of intelligence.

Two of these, interpersonal and intrapersonal, have to do with comprehending feelings, moods and motivations.  Interpersonal is the detection of these in others, and intrapersonal is ability to perceive and understand these inside of oneself. Gardner does not illuminate how people gain these two types of intelligences. His idea is to test yourself to uncover the areas of your intelligence or interests. This will help you choose a direction to develop yourself through education, and also to select a career that suits you. As these tests are mainly for individual use, and not used by schools to place students or companies to determine who gets the promotion, there has been no real attempt to…

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When Emotional Intelligence is a liability

Can you read other’s emotions?

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DSCN1964One of the four major branches of emotional intelligence (according to John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey) is the ability to reflectively regulate or manage emotions. This applies to managing your own emotions rather than those of other people. According to research by this team, people who understand their own emotions and “are confident about their abilities to regulate their affect, seem to be able to repair their moods more quickly and effectively following failure.” [1]

There are two things about this finding that piqued by interest. As regulating one’s own emotions and repairing one’s own mood are basically the same ability, these two skills should definitely be found in the same people. However, people only “seem” to do this. The person who manages their own emotions may appear to minimize disappointment, frustration and anger while being disturbed as the person who frets, sulks and rants after their plans bite…

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Reading emotions

The quandary of emotional intelligence…

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fear06 047bImagine that you are sitting down to holiday dinner at which a number of friends and family have gathered. The host, Micaela is young, a bit nervous, rushing about trying to please the guests. Timidly she offers a plate of brown patties, with a fine grain in plate of broth. When asked “What is it?” she responds smiling, “Pate foie gras… goose liver paste.” Sandy, sitting across the table momentarily curls up the side of her mouth in an sign of contempt.

Thoughts go rushing through your head. Did Micaela not see Sandy’s expression? Is she insulted by that look of disgust? Perhaps you should comment about what delicacy pate foie gras is to show your empathy for Micaela. But then, maybe Sandy finds force feeding geese a type of animal cruelty, and the expression of disgust was an automatic gut response. Perhaps you should encourage Sandy to speak up…

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Solving the problem of being finite

Is emotional intelligence what you actually think it is?

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DSCN0406cWhenever I see “problem solving” listed as a component of emotional intelligence, I tend to regard the rest of what the author says on that subject with skepticism. Typically problem solving is a combination of creativity and logic to generate an innovative idea and put it to practical use. Creativity hardly seems related to emotional intelligence, judging by the character of creative people. In fact researchers have found that one recurring trait of this creative group is a lack of regard for social skills. They tend to be less considerate, more likely to find fault, less agreeable and more rebellious than the average person.[1][2]

However, articles keep popping up claiming a connection between emotional intelligence and problem solving.  One study dealt with problem solving by teams and correlated the ability to complete problem solving tasks higher totals on tests of emotional intelligence. [3] It makes sense that team members…

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What is important?

So the real question of who is smart comes down to what is worth knowing…

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Mesa_Verde_National_Park_MEVE6012In high school speech class, when required to give an informative speech, I  described the  accomplishments of the Anasazi.  My teacher, whose pre-Columbian knowledge included a vague recollection of the Aztecs asked “What’s the point of your speech?  Why are these Anasa…. whatever, people important?”

I had been to Mesa Verdi and was impressed by their ability to build adobe apartment complexes and a road system over a thousand years ago. I did not mention my admiration of the Anasazi (it was not a persuasive speech) but detailed the advancements of this now defunct civilization. Essentially the teacher was asking a version of students’ perennial query “Why do I need to know this?” Even though it was an informative speech I should have voiced my opinion, but this probably would not have made any difference to my teacher.

I discovered that “importance” is really subjective – based on individual views. Instructors who despair…

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Panning for e-gold

The internet is not free…

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MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASometimes finding information of real value on the Internet resembles the search for gold. A shiny nugget in the stream catches the eye of a lucky person and news spreads like wildfire. Soon crowds spend long hours filtering the water for the tiniest specks of gold dust. However, usually only a few find enough gold to make a living. It is the people who supply the food and equipment for the prospectors that strike it rich.

E-gold should be easier to uncover than attempting to find the real thing as depicted by the TV show Gold Rush. However, new ideas for using the Internet are quickly imitated or sometimes deceitfully lifted by claim-jumpers to make someone else rich. (Ever hear of the lawsuit filled life of Steve Zuckerberg? [1]) Search engines and social networks multiply because those companies that take on the mammoth task of helping us navigate and communicate…

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To tell the truth

With more information, the truth is getting harder to find.

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DSCN9574 c1When Adobe inadvertently made free downloads of Creative Suite 2 available, a student mentioned seeing it on Tumblr, but discounted it as one of those rumors so easily spread on the Internet. However, my own child was eager to have some version of graphic software that would work with a pen tablet received as a gift. So, I did my own research.

Unable to find information on I checked Google. Forbes said the free download was not available. I sorted through recent posts on IT newsletters (some of my more reliable sources to deal with technology rumors) and armed with two links I was able to locate the actual page on It explained that although this download might have trouble running on Windows 7, the software was available at no cost. So the gift of an out-of-date version of Adobe, was now available.

Often, I hear teachers bemoan students lack…

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