Culture 2 min read

Why We Use Overconfidence For Persuasion or Deception

A recent experiment conducted by two Amsterdam University researchers revealed why overconfidence is a useful tool to persuade or deceive others.

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

A recent study suggests that people may use overconfidence when they want to persuade or deceive others.

Various past studies of human behavior revealed that most people tend to overate their abilities or characteristics. For example, we could think that we’re smarter, more beautiful, kinder or that we are better drivers than others on the road.

But why do people feel overconfident? Also, does it convey any advantage?

Two researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the University of MunichPeter Schwardmann and Joël van der Weel – sought to answer these questions. So, they conducted a two-stage experiment to uncover the benefits that come with being cocksure.

Exploring the Science of Overconfidence

In the first stage of the experiment, the researcher administered an intelligence test to a group of volunteers. They then promised half of the participants €15 Euro as a reward for convincing the other half that they performed well on the test. The other volunteers also had to do the same.

Unbeknownst to the participants, the researchers did not give them their actual results. Instead, some got a higher score than they really performed, while others were scored lower.

Finally, the researchers studied the volunteers’ behavior as they tried to convince mock employers that they had a high score in the test.

The experiment showed that the volunteers that thought they scored high on the test were more confident than those who thought they scored lower. That was the first result.

For the second stage of the experiment, the researchers wanted to check if overconfidence gives people an advantage when dealing with other people.

The researcher observed the volunteers’ behavior as they tried to persuade the mock employer that they had performed excellently on the test. Participants who were told they had scored higher on the test – even though that’s not the case – convinced the employer that they had.

That’s a classic example of overconfidence.

According to the researchers, the big confidence boost makes the volunteers more persuasive in face-to-face interactions. The result of the study suggests that “overconfidence is a product of adaptive cognitive technology with important social benefits, rather than some deficiency or bias.”

Read More: Fooling Brain Into Thinking Your Body is Working Harder Than It is

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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