A new scientific study suggests that overconfidence may actually improve your success rate. It's been somewhat of a mystery to evolutionary biologists as to why so many people are overconfident or narcissistic when those traits tend to result in dangerously wrong expectations and bad decisions. Dominic Johnson of the University of Edinburgh and UC San Diego's James Fowler, co-author of the terrific book Connected
, used a evolutionary game theory and a computer simulation to study human competition and strategy. From National Geographic:
The results, published today in the journal Nature, showed that overconfidence pays off only when there is uncertainty about opponents' real strengths, and when the benefits of the prize at stake is sufficiently larger than the costs.
"So let's say you and I are fighting over some resource," Johnson said. "As long as there is some uncertainty about the outcome and the resource is valuable compared with the costs incurred in fighting for it, then overconfidence is the best strategy."
For instance, if people are fighting over an island with oil reserves, the benefit of accessing the oil might be a hundred billion dollars, while the costs of the war might be ten billion.
But if "if the cost of conflict or competition is high, and all for a fairly worthless prize—you're much better off being cautious."
Johnson compares the survival of overconfidence as a primary human trait to our outmoded cravings for high-calorie food—"a consequence of a preference that was useful to us in the past" when calories were scarce "but [that] goes wrong when there's a McDonald's on every corner."
"Evolution of Narcissism: Why We're Overconfident, and Why It Works
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey
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