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The evolution of overconfidence

  1. Sep 26, 2011 #1


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    Its well documented that people generally are overconfident of their abilities - a recent paper in Nature speculates how it became an adaptive trait:

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2011 #2
    If memory serves from the social psychology lectures I watched this a well known attribute type of bias where people over rate skills which are highly valued (i.e. such as social skills or morality). On the flip side people can underrate their qualities (relative to the average) on things which aren’t as socially desired or thought of as difficult. Competition would certainly play a factor for a given demographic if the sought after attribute is important to the goals of many people in that demographic.
  4. Sep 28, 2011 #3
    We have all seen an overconfident guy get the girl.

    Some might think ''Where does he get off acting like that? He's not smart, good-looking, rich, or anything, but he acts like he's the boss and the girl just believed him... What the...''

    Well, there you go.
  5. Sep 28, 2011 #4


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    The tall square-jawed muscular guy on the beach kicks sand onto the shy skinny nerd and grabs the bikini-clad girl. He is actually saying "mate with me, I have good genes". This is called "reproductivie succes" and seems to be based on overconfidence.

    But the skinny nerd may later win the Nobel Prize, so the propagation of his genes would be of value to the society also. The girl needs to figure this out before mating.
  6. Sep 29, 2011 #5
    The girl doesn't need to figure anything out. Human evolution has her attraction-circuits figured out already.

    The person who needs to figure it out is the skinny nerd.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  7. Sep 29, 2011 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Moved to biology.
  8. Sep 29, 2011 #7


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    Why? this is a social science article by two political scientists who discuss overconfidence as a learned behavior:

  9. Sep 29, 2011 #8


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    Any paper that states to offer a model for the evolution of a trait is best discussed in the forum for which evolution is a discipline. This increases the chances of attracting posters who know the subject. Whilst there are likely cultural factors and social consequences this thread has already generated discussion on how overconfidence links to reproductive success and thus would be best suited to a biological discussion.
  10. Sep 29, 2011 #9


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    This is the application (and possible explanation?) of a rather well known phenomena: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect" [Broken].

    Very interesting effect responsible for many a misguided soul's leap to anti-intellectualism :)

    Good to see evolutionary psychology doing science.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  11. Sep 30, 2011 #10
    As far as being confident that something's a predator, its evolutionarily better to lean toward the idea that it is.
  12. Oct 1, 2011 #11


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    but this is also a rational response under bounded rationality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounded_rationality)

    thinking is costly hence humans tend to rely on heuristics when either the level of uncertainty is high or the payoff for heavy thinking is not worth the cost
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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