Publications / SAND Report

The Impact of Individual Traits on Domain Task Performance: Exploring the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Sanchez, Danielle; Speed, Ann S.

Research shows that individuals often overestimate their knowledge and performance without realizing they have done so, which can lead to faulty technical outcomes. This phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). This research sought to determine if some individuals were more prone to overestimating their performance due to underlying personality and cognitive characteristics. To test our hypothesis, we first collected individual difference measures. Next, we asked participants to estimate their performance on three performance tasks to assess the likelihood of overestimation. We found that some individuals may be more prone to overestimating their performance than others, and that faulty problem-solving abilities and low skill may be to blame. Encouraging individuals to think critically through all options and to consult with others before making a high-consequence decision may reduce overestimation.