According to a new study Americans aren’t as smart as we think we are when it comes to politics...but the results most likely apply to everything else as well.
According to research recently published in Political Psychology, people with less knowledge about politics are more confident in their political knowledge. The finding is further explained by Assistant Professor Ian Anson:
“The Dunning-Kruger effect holds that individuals with little knowledge about a topic will be, paradoxically, the most confident that they know a lot about the topic. Knowledgeable individuals will also discount their knowledgeability.”
Anson became very interested in the Dunning-Kruger effect in the months and days leading up to the 2016 presidential election because of discussions he witnessed on Twitter. He then worked out a method to “apply the theory to the subject of political knowledgeability” with a specific interest in “whether the partisan mind is susceptible to overconfident self-appraisals of political knowledge.”
He created two online surveys, questioning 2,606 American adults, that evaluated them on their political knowledge with questions asking things like how long certain senators have served or who is Secretary of Energy. He also asked party-related questions like where parties stood on certain issues. Most of the quiz participants didn’t perform very well, and the ones who scored the worse tended to think they did rather well.
“Many Americans appear to be extremely overconfident in their political knowledgeability” and this effect seemed to become stronger “when Republicans and Democrats engage in partisan thought processes.”
Basically, none of us are as smart as we think we are, right?
Will the study have an effect in the national political discourse, now that people know they aren’t as politically savvy as they think they are? Doubtful. Especially not with the “Dunning-Kruger Presidency” in full effect, as scholars have referred to Trump because of how he likes to “opine incredibly confidently about topics he appears to know little about.”