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Is confidence a good thing?

  1. Sep 28, 2012 #1
    Is "confidence" a good thing?

    People who are confident often drown because they believe they can swim farther than they can really swim. On the other hand, women go for confident guys and it's no doubt that in general "confidence attracts success."

    Is confidence a good thing?

    I'm a very unconfident individual. I believe that is the case because I'm analytic and therefore self-critical while the less analytical-minded go about their day believing they are awesome. By "awesome" I mean evolutionarily fit (good-looking, intelligent, athletic, etc.).
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2012 #2
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    I think so.
  4. Sep 28, 2012 #3
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    So your analysis is telling you that confident people are less analytical?
  5. Sep 28, 2012 #4
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    My current opinion is that, given the fact everyone finds confidence appealing, it would be advantageous to be able to project solid confidence at will while not, in your own mind, believing any of the malarky you project. You would understand yourself to be role playing, acting.

    People already do this very frequently to a greater or lesser degree: project the face that's appropriate to the situation. You put on your most competent air when applying for a job, you act your nicest when asking for a favor, etc. It offends no one and is actually expected. Everyone understands everyone else does it.
  6. Sep 28, 2012 #5
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Some confidence is inherent in an individual, but a lot comes from practise (at whatever it is you want to be confident in). No offence, but you just sound jealous and resentful without a very coherent reason.
  7. Sep 28, 2012 #6


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    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Confidence is not a bad thing. You need some level of confidence to get up on a stage and perform music, for instance. Without that level of confidence, your performance will be stunted. Not good. Uncomfortable for you and less-than-optimal for the audience.
  8. Sep 28, 2012 #7
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Can be good can be bad.
    Too much confidence can be bad you might actualy believe you are right when it just ain't so.Which can lead to all sorts of problems.On the other hand too little confidence can make you insecure and introverted.You need to strike a delicate balance.
  9. Sep 28, 2012 #8
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    I don't think it's necessarily true that confident people often drown because they believe they can swim farther than they can really swim.

    I think that biting off more than you can chew is something that happens because of a lot of things, including pride and poor judgement. Someone can be confident that they *cannot* swim that far, and so they don't.
  10. Sep 28, 2012 #9


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    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Confident people don't drown because they believe they can swim farther they can really swim. Confident people know how far they can swim.

    Arrogant people fake confidence, having no clue as to what's behind confidence. They quite likely haven't spent much time determining what their actual capabilities are.

    People that lack confidence in some particular task are probably being honest with themselves.

    People that lack confidence in any task are probably doing the opposite of being arrogant. Having no clue what their actual capabilities are, they assume they have no capabilities.
  11. Sep 28, 2012 #10
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    It doesn't seem to work this way. People who are actually competent often underestimate their own abilities:

    As far as estimation of your own "awesomeness" goes, a thing which is completely independent of any competence in any field, I have observed that people who exude confidence are always much more attractive than people who seem fretful, or afflicted with low self esteem. They possess a kind of ontological solidity that stems from, as near as I can figure, not worrying much about anything. People like this may be well aware they're not particularly competent at anything, but they don't worry about that. They have a deep equanimity.
  12. Sep 29, 2012 #11


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    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Showing confidence only works if you actually have the knowledge and capabilities to back it up.
  13. Sep 29, 2012 #12
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    There's this thing called "The Halo Effect".


    Simply demonstrating self confidence will trigger the halo effect. If you act with self confidence, people will decide you must be an all around likable, popular person. They might even project competence and intelligence onto you. You remember Ronald Reagan, I'm sure.
  14. Sep 29, 2012 #13


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    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    There's the rub. There are many people who exude confidence, yet fail in delivery. It happens all over.

    My wife ran into a guy a couple of weeks ago that I had mentored in live-performance/guitar, and he told her how scared he was to get up on stage at the open-mic jams. He was (and is) a competent guitarist, but was terrified to get up there and play. I had him get up there and face me, so he could see what chords I was playing and what changes I was going through, and he learned to pay attention to me and not the audience. That was the confidence that he needed. Paying attention to "significant others" in a performance is primary. Stressing about the audience is detrimental. This goes way beyond performing arts, but I'm sure most PF'ers know that. Sometimes, reassuring competence goes a long way toward instilling confidence.
  15. Sep 29, 2012 #14
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Saw this the other day:
    http://www.letstalkfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/HighlightReel.jpg [Broken]

    Seemed pretty relevant.

    Personally, I come across as very confident most of the time, but I'm quite insecure. Sometimes I may get overwhelmed because people will assume I can handle things that in fact, I might struggle with. But I've also learned that if you come across as too weak to handle things, you never even get the chance to show what you can really do. My trick is to keep up looking like I've got it all under control, but never be afraid to ask for help. That way I constantly get opportunities to push myself, but I never risk "drowning" as you put it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Sep 29, 2012 #15
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    At work, you will be interacting people for decades .. how long simple demonstration of "self-confidence" without capabilities works? I doubt it lasts more than a month.

    That isn't true. I (and I believe many other professionals) look at past successes and work to judge a person. How someone thinks of himself is none of my interest. What interests me more is what the individual has done so far.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  17. Sep 29, 2012 #16


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    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    It's a difficult balance. Confidence can be a good thing, but overconfidence is clearly not, (which gets back to what Evo said). I tend to doubt myself and my abilities all the time, and it is counterproductive. As the OP stated, it stems from an overly active mind always playing out what could go wrong, and fearing failure. I think that just projecting an air of confidence can actually go a long way towards helping you succeed, becuase it helps you push these thoughts from your mind and just focus on the task at hand. The flip side is that if you overdo it, you risk taking on more than you can handle. A healthy dose of humility never hurts. I still don't think I've struck the right balance, instead oscillating wildly between diffidence and bravado. :biggrin:
  18. Sep 29, 2012 #17
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    It doesn't matter if the guy who got the job because he seemed more confident than you crashes in a month: you didn't get the job because you seemed unsure of yourself. That's the point. I recommend people learn to project more confidence than they might actually feel because:
    It's unpalatable for thinking people, I know, but, in the real world, some important part of every situation boils down to a popularity contest. It is, in fact, much more pleasant to be around someone who is confident than someone who is fretful, tentative, and pessimistic. On the whole, confident people are more attractive and more popular.

    People are acutely sensitive to other people's assessment of themselves. You can (baring Asperger's or similar conditions) watch people in a public place and rate their self esteem on some scale: you will assess some people as very confident, quite happy with themselves on the one pole, and on the other, people as very insecure and shy (with many shades and variations between the poles, of course). While you may consciously decide only to judge someone based only on their real accomplishments in a work situation, you are never-the-less noticing their body language and paralanguage and they are making an impression on you.
  19. Sep 29, 2012 #18
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    This is exactly what I was talking about in my first post in this thread: it's much better to learn to project confidence regardless of the doubt you might actually feel.
    A person with OCD assumes every pothole he hits was a pedestrian. A drunk driver assumes every pedestrian he hits was a pothole.
  20. Sep 30, 2012 #19
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    Overconfidence is bad because you can get 'over your head' and fail. However, if overconfidence allowed you to try and fail whereas underconfidence didn't let you try at all, I'd say sometimes overconfidence is the lesser of the two evils.

    You can also be confident in your inablilities as well. When someone asks me if I can play the guitar, I'm always confident in my resounding 'no.'

    In my opinion confidence is layered. The first layer his how confident you are in yourself, IE how well you know yourself and how well you know what you know and what you don't. Then there's your projected confidence, which is what others see in a snapshot. For example, if someone asks you a question about something you know a lot about and you project this through a confident response that would be utilizing layer 2. Likewise, even if you were confident in your knowledge if you project yourself without that confidence the other party may seek a second opinion. The most important layer is the third layer. This is the confidence others have in you. It takes factors from layers one and two.

    If your are frequently confident but also wrong, people will lose confidence in you. All the projecting in the world won't make the difference then. Likewise, even if you don't project your confidence very well, if you are consisentantly right, people will recognize this and become confident in your abilities. However it takes a lot longer then if you project confidence approprately, and you can be overlooked to the point where you never get a chance to shine.

    In short, not being confident is a bad thing and you should become confident as soon as possible.
  21. Sep 30, 2012 #20
    Re: Is "confidence" a good thing?

    What I call "responsible confidence" is a good thing; that is, believing that you can be as successful as you want to be as long as you work hard. One certainly does not want to be one of those students who thinks he/she can do well with minimal diligence. Now, there are extremely gifted people who have very little trouble with the subject matter, but they're usually not the ones you see slacking off.
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