Overconfidence Can Improve Your Social Status, But Obscure Incompetence

Being overconfident can help you climb the career and social ladder, but it also makes you more likely to make mistakes, PsychCentral reported Aug. 14.

Ambitious, “alpha”-types are often overconfident, but are rewarded for their attitude because they participate more vocally and more often in tasks and their relaxed body language and confident tone puts others at ease, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley say.

“In organizations, people are very easily swayed by others’ confidence even when that confidence is unjustified,” says study co-author Cameron Anderson, Ph.D. “Displays of confidence are given an inordinate amount of weight.”

However, overconfidence comes with a price. In nearly every task in the study, people who were overconfident made more mistakes than their those who were more humble, because they earnestly believed themselves to have superior knowledge even when that didn’t fit with their actual ability.

Overconfidence often leads to praise and promotion, further increasing the predisposition to arrogance  regardless of ability, the study says.

The study appears online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.