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The Dunning Kruger Effect

theiyd profile image Idrees Dargahwala ・3 min read

Back in eighth grade of my high school, i first started this programming thing with BASIC programming language which is the acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code and thought “asking a machine to do stuff is pretty easy, a few lines of instructions and BOOM, it’s done !”, but with education and experience i agree to the fact that programming is not easy.

I believe in the concept of self evaluation. It has always been very important to me, because it doesn’t matter what the world around you thinks, but what matters is what you think, the kind of thought process you agree with. During this evaluation i thought about strengths, weaknesses, education, and personal growth. This allowed me to reflect, learn and think about what it means to be a programmer.

Often the new, the beginners entering into the field of programming live in an illusion that teaching a computer to act according to the steps provided, is a cakewalk. It was the same scenario for me when i stepped into the arena. However, it is untrue. This particular category of people go through an effect known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

According to the definition by Wikipedia, “In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is”. In simple words, when unskilled people overestimate their abilities and skilled people underestimate their abilities. As you become better at programming, better at making mobile applications, you realize how little you know. It’s like getting to the top of the mountain only to find that you are at the bottom of a bigger mountain.

This effect has huge implications in software development. After the initial struggle of learning a language, you might get over confident which leads to underestimation of learning technologies as you go ahead in the journey. Not only programming, there have also been several other cases where people have been identified with the similar condition related to their driving skills, behavioral skills and even academic performance.

To prevent the adverse outcomes, one can keep in mind the following points.

  • Keep learning and practicing: Instead of assuming you know all there is to know about a subject, keep digging deeper. Once you gain greater knowledge of a topic, the more likely you are to recognize how much there is still to learn.

  • Get to know the progress of other people: Another effective strategy involves asking others for constructive criticism. While it can be difficult to hear sometimes, such feedback can provide valuable insights into how others perceive your abilities.

  • Question yourself: Are you open to learn new concepts ? Are you open to try a new language ? Are you humble ? Are you able to take criticism and evaluate feedback ? Are you a good listener ? These questions will help you to self assess yourself and be realistic.

While it may be easier to recognise the effect in others, it is important to remember that it is something that impacts everyone. By understanding the underlying causes that contribute to this bias, you might be better able to spot these tendencies in yourself and find ways to overcome them. As earlier mentioned, self-evaluation is what makes you better from yesterday.

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