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05. David A. Dunning, Psychology

David DunningSelf-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Psychology Press, 2005). People base many decisions over a lifetime on impressions of their skill, knowledge, expertise, talent, personality, and moral character. However, people often hold inflated views of their abilities and character. Dunning’s book presents a scientific explanation for the inaccuracies of the impressions people hold of themselves and why it is difficult to form accurate impressions of oneself. The book explores, for example, why people are poor judges of their competencies and skills in social and intellectual areas; how people develop self-perceptions of skill and accuracy, if not taken from performance; why people believe they are ethically superior to others; and why mistaken predictions of the self may have nothing to do with faulty self-knowledge, but rather may be a function of misunderstanding situations. Achieving accurate self-judgment is inherently difficult, but paying close attention to past outcomes and looking to others as a crucial source of information about oneself are tools people can use to evaluate themselves.

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