If you have ever heard or seen clips of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh ranting on about how the President is “going to lead a war on traditional marriage,” or the like, then you have probably noticed that most things he says are senseless. But he’s got spunk, and various studies have shown that you just don’t have to be exact to be believable; all you need is confidence. Now, a brand new study further shows that it’s not difficult to deceive people when you’ve got an excessive amount of self-confidence.
They found that people who were full of themselves were better able to get promotions or reach powerful positions by just letting their self-assurance exude onto other people, who were deceived into believing the self-deceived were qualified.
Indeed that is true, and it is likely because these people have tinges of narcissism. Narcissists are natural leaders, even if they are necessarily bad at their job — it is their competitive attitudes that get them there. From pundits like Rush Limbaugh to high school athletes, confidence is essential to getting ahead in life, even if you don’t deserve it.
Nityananda found these misconceptions regarding confidence when conducting an experiment in which he asked a group of 72 college students to rate their ability to complete an assignment and then rate the ability of their peers to complete the same assignment. They found that 45 percent of the students were not confident in their ability to score high — interestingly, the researchers found that others perceived them as less capable as well — while 40 percent of students were overconfident. Surprisingly, others also perceived these students to have the ability to score high, regardless of what their actual grades were.
The researchers credited these illusory qualities, at least partly, as causing fiscal crises and airplane crashes — the idea being that self-deceived individuals are more likely to overestimate other people’s abilities and take greater dangers. “If overconfident people are more likely to be risk prone then by promoting them we may be creating institutions, such as banks and armies, that are more vulnerable to risk,” joint lead writer Dr. Shakti Lamba said in the release.
In fact, that’s just what New Yorker writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell said with regard to the 2008 fiscal crisis at the 2009 New Yorker Summit. “What’s going on on Wall Street isn’t the result of experts failing to act as experts: It’s the result of experts acting exactly as experts act. It’s not a result of incompetence, it’s a result of overconfidence.”