Frankly Speaking: Experience Tempers Confidence

Have you ever met a farrier with fewer than 5 years of experience who seems to have more certainty than those with significantly more years in the trade? Their confidence on farriery doesn’t correlate to what their actual knowledge and ability indicate. Turns out there is something to this.

In March, I attended the Equine Soundness Professionals Podiatry Seminar. We have coverage of this inaugural event on our website, as well as an article in this issue featuring University of California, Davis, farrier Shane Westman (Page 90) taken from this seminar. At the meeting, he briefly discussed the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how it affects many humans.

High Confidence, but Little Knowledge

In 1999, psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger published a study on a cognitive bias that showed some people who are least competent at a task often incorrectly rate themselves as high-performers because they are too ignorant to know otherwise. The duo defined their study by testing students in a variety of subjects. Students who performed the poorest overestimated their scores, while those who did slightly better underestimated their scores.

Dunning and Kruger graphed these findings, showing how confidence spikes with those with the least experience. As competency increases among those in the study, certainty dips until it bottoms among those in the pool with average ability. The graph starts an upswing and eventually peaks when the genius emerges with high levels of competency. Their confidence matches their expertise because they are aware of their knowledge and ability.


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Jeremy mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern is the former Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is president of American Horse Publications.

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