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Flawed Self-Assessment

Overview of attention for article published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, June 2016
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#20 of 110)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)

Mentioned by

26 news outlets
3 blogs
3 policy sources
13 tweeters
2 Wikipedia pages


1059 Dimensions

Readers on

940 Mendeley
4 CiteULike
Flawed Self-Assessment
Published in
Psychological Science in the Public Interest, June 2016
DOI 10.1111/j.1529-1006.2004.00018.x
Pubmed ID

David Dunning, Chip Heath, Jerry M. Suls


Research from numerous corners of psychological inquiry suggests that self-assessments of skill and character are often flawed in substantive and systematic ways. We review empirical findings on the imperfect nature of self-assessment and discuss implications for three real-world domains: health, education, and the workplace. In general, people's self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance. The correlation between self-ratings of skill and actual performance in many domains is moderate to meager-indeed, at times, other people's predictions of a person's outcomes prove more accurate than that person's self-predictions. In addition, people overrate themselves. On average, people say that they are "above average" in skill (a conclusion that defies statistical possibility), overestimate the likelihood that they will engage in desirable behaviors and achieve favorable outcomes, furnish overly optimistic estimates of when they will complete future projects, and reach judgments with too much confidence. Several psychological processes conspire to produce flawed self-assessments. Research focusing on health echoes these findings. People are unrealistically optimistic about their own health risks compared with those of other people. They also overestimate how distinctive their opinions and preferences (e.g., discomfort with alcohol) are among their peers-a misperception that can have a deleterious impact on their health. Unable to anticipate how they would respond to emotion-laden situations, they mispredict the preferences of patients when asked to step in and make treatment decisions for them. Guided by mistaken but seemingly plausible theories of health and disease, people misdiagnose themselves-a phenomenon that can have severe consequences for their health and longevity. Similarly, research in education finds that students' assessments of their performance tend to agree only moderately with those of their teachers and mentors. Students seem largely unable to assess how well or poorly they have comprehended material they have just read. They also tend to be overconfident in newly learned skills, at times because the common educational practice of massed training appears to promote rapid acquisition of skill-as well as self-confidence-but not necessarily the retention of skill. Several interventions, however, can be introduced to prompt students to evaluate their skill and learning more accurately. In the workplace, flawed self-assessments arise all the way up the corporate ladder. Employees tend to overestimate their skill, making it difficult to give meaningful feedback. CEOs also display overconfidence in their judgments, particularly when stepping into new markets or novel projects-for example, proposing acquisitions that hurt, rather then help, the price of their company's stock. We discuss several interventions aimed at circumventing the consequences of such flawed assessments; these include training people to routinely make cognitive repairs correcting for biased self-assessments and requiring people to justify their decisions in front of their peers. The act of self-assessment is an intrinsically difficult task, and we enumerate several obstacles that prevent people from reaching truthful self-impressions. We also propose that researchers and practitioners should recognize self-assessment as a coherent and unified area of study spanning many subdisciplines of psychology and beyond. Finally, we suggest that policymakers and other people who makes real-world assessments should be wary of self-assessments of skill, expertise, and knowledge, and should consider ways of repairing self-assessments that may be flawed.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 13 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 940 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 28 3%
United Kingdom 10 1%
Canada 7 <1%
Germany 5 <1%
New Zealand 3 <1%
Switzerland 3 <1%
Spain 3 <1%
Japan 2 <1%
Netherlands 2 <1%
Other 14 1%
Unknown 863 92%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 220 23%
Student > Master 151 16%
Researcher 96 10%
Student > Bachelor 75 8%
Professor > Associate Professor 70 7%
Other 252 27%
Unknown 76 8%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 316 34%
Social Sciences 138 15%
Medicine and Dentistry 81 9%
Business, Management and Accounting 78 8%
Economics, Econometrics and Finance 38 4%
Other 186 20%
Unknown 103 11%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 254. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 12 April 2021.
All research outputs
of 17,517,444 outputs
Outputs from Psychological Science in the Public Interest
of 110 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 104,551 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Psychological Science in the Public Interest
of 3 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,517,444 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 110 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 162.3. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 104,551 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 3 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them