New York: Being confident is one thing and being overconfident quite another. Researchers have found that those who think intelligence is fixed and unchangeable tend to be more overconfident.
"Such people tend to maintain their overconfidence by concentrating on the easy parts of tasks while spending as little time as possible on the hard parts of tasks," said Joyce Ehrlinger from Washington State University in the US.
"A little bit of overconfidence can be helpful, but larger amounts of overconfidence can lead people to make bad decisions and to miss out on opportunities to learn," Ehrlinger added in the paper to be published in March in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
But people who hold a growth mindset – meaning they think intelligence is a changeable quality – spend more time on the challenging parts of tasks, Consequently, their levels of confidence are more in line with their abilities.
The researchers note that overconfidence is a documented problem for drivers, motorcyclists, bungee jumpers, doctors and lawyers.
According to the first of three studies, the researchers found that students who hold a fixed mindset about intelligence were more overconfident about their performance on a multiple-choice test than those with a growth mindset.
The second study found that students with fixed mindsets devoted less attention to difficult problems and, consequently, displayed more overconfidence than those with growth mindsets.
Further evidence for this conclusion came from a third study, which showed that forcing fixed theorists to really look at the difficult as well as the easy parts of an intellectual task shook their confidence, inspiring more accurate impressions of their performance.
"We know that students' beliefs about intelligence are very consequential in the classroom and that interventions teach students a growth mindset lead to improvements in their grades," Ehrlinger said.
"We also know that being overconfident keeps people from learning. You have to understand and acknowledge what you don't yet know in order to truly learn," Ehrlinger explained.