David Dunning, U of M Psychology

Why Ignorance Fails to Recognize Itself
David Dunning


Fall 2019
Lecture Time: 
Friday, September 13, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 

R0220 Ross School of Business

Introduced By: 
Karl Larsen


I discuss the flawed evaluator problem, which asks how well can people assess their own intellectual and social skills, as well as those of others, when their expertise inevitably contains gaps and defects? I discuss how these imperfections lead people to misjudge themselves, often causing them to miss their own incompetence and gullability (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect), and misjudge others, often prompting failures to recognize top-level competence and virtuosity among their peers (the Cassandra Quandary). I discuss the implications of the flawed evaluator problem for personal issues as well as society at large.

Recording & Additional Notes

David Dunning is Professor at the University of Michigan and a social psychologist focusing primarily on the psychology underlying human misbelief. His most cited work shows that people hold flattering opinions of their character and competence that cannot be justified from objective evidence, work supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation. An author of over 150 journal articles, book chapters, and general interest pieces, he is half of the team responsible for describing the infamous Dunning-Kruger effect, in which ignorance fails to recognize itself. He has served as president of both the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Society for the Science of Motivation. In 2016 we was awarded the Distinguished Lifetime Career Award from the International Society for Self and Identity, and has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. His work has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, Scientific American, the BBC, CBC, This American Life, and the Australian Broadcasting Company, and even in a Doonesbury cartoon. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and a PhD from Stanford University, both in psychology.