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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Aug;77(2):221-32.

Lake Wobegon be gone! The "below-average effect" and the egocentric nature of comparative ability judgments.

Author information

  • Department of Psychology, Cornell University, USA. jkruger@s.psych.uiuc.edu

Abstract

Like the inhabitants of Garrison Keillor's (1985) fictional community of Lake Wobegon, most people appear to believe that their skills and abilities are above average. A series of studies illustrates one of the reasons why: when people compare themselves with their peers, they focus egocentrically on their own skills and insufficiently take into account the skills of the comparison group. This tendency engenders the oft-documented above-average effect in domains in which absolute skills tend to be high but produces a reliable below-average effect in domains in which absolute skills tend to be low (Studies 1 and 2). In Study 3, cognitive load exacerbated these biases, suggesting that people "anchor" on their assessment of their own abilities and insufficiently "adjust" to take into account the skills of the comparison group. These results suggest that the tendency to see oneself as above average may not be as ubiquitous as once thought.

PMID:
10474208
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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