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Monday, June 17, 2019

Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence

Heather Murphy
The New York Times
Originally posted May 20, 2019

Here are two excerpt:

The researchers suggest that part of the answer involves what they call “overconfidence.” In several experiments, they found that people who came from a higher social class were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills — even when tests proved that they were average. This unmerited overconfidence, they found, was interpreted by strangers as competence.

The findings highlight yet another way that family wealth and parents’ education — two of a number of factors used to assess social class in the study — affect a person’s experience as they move through the world.

“With this research, we now have reason to think that coming from a higher social class confers yet another advantage,” said Jessica A. Kennedy, a professor of management at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study.

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Researchers said they hoped that the takeaway was not to strive to be overconfident. Wars, stock market crashes and many other crises can be blamed on overconfidence, they said. So how do managers, employers, voters and customers avoid overvaluing social class and being duped by incompetent wealthy people? Dr. Kennedy said she had been encouraged to find that if you show people actual facts about a person, the elevated status that comes with overconfidence often fades away.

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