The illusion of superiority

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Entrepreneurs
Tags: , , , , , , ,


So how good a driver are you? Chances are you think you are better than average.

Psychologists have investigated it. A fellow called Svenson questioned 161 students in the US and Sweden. He found that 93 per cent of the US students and 69 per cent of Swedish students thought they were better than average drivers.

The UK government is coming down harder on driving misdemeanours. It is remarkable how many people agree. We all have our pet hates. Drivers who tend to think the inside and outside lanes of motorways are for everyone else also tend to hate tailgaters. While drivers who like to intimidate other drivers by moving right up to their bumpers and flashing their headlights aggressively seethe over those who hog the middle lane. We support the new tougher stances on driving irregularities because we think they apply to someone else.

Yet where would we be without the illusion of superiority? How many entrepreneurs embark on a business venture because they are convinced they can do it – whatever it is – better than anyone else. Without that sense of self-belief they might never try, and the occasional spectacular success –picked out, perhaps by the force of randomness – would never happen. Maybe the predominance of the illusion of superiority explains why the US is more entrepreneurially minded.

It is just that when chance favours us we tend to see it as evidence that our initial feeling of superiority has been confirmed – and we never admit to the illusion.

© Investment & Business News 2013

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