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
We just got the Sport model of the EPIKGO hoverboard at my office. Besides being terribly chic, it’s apparently bulletproof.
Ok, it’s not just solar powered. It’s also an anti-theft, waterproof marvel that keeps my phone’s power bar from ever getting into the red.Sure the idea seems obvious now – tuck a gigantic solar powered battery pack into an exposed slot and turn the wearer into a walking energy harvester. Simple maybe, but I didn’t […]
The office I work in is full of things old people buy to make themselves feel young again. I can honestly say that our awesome new toy, The Swagtron T3 Hoverboard, makes me feel very, very old. I’ll explain why later. Swagtron T3 Pros There’s no way to overcharge the battery and that means no […]
Python is immensely popular in the data science world for the same reason it is in most other areas of computing—it has highly readable syntax and is suitable for anything from short scripts to massive web services. One of its most exciting, newest applications, however, is in machine learning. You can dive into this booming […]
Learning new skills is a great way to improve your resume and stand out from other candidates. Especially in a workforce in which many job-seekers have a wide variety of qualifications. With lifetime access to Virtual Training Company, you won’t have to choose a specific focus. You can pick up new expertise whenever you deem it […]
Instead of throwing out all the empties after your next party, why not transform them into some new DIY glassware? Cut back on waste and add some home ambiance with the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter and Candle Making Kit.The Kinkajou is designed as a clamp-on scoring blade to make precise cuts. Just slide a bottle in, tighten […]