Overconfidence Leads To Poor Decisions: Study

There could be some truth to the saying that pride comes before a fall, as neuroscientists reveal how overconfidence can lead to poor decision-making.

AsianScientist (Aug. 24, 2016) – The link between overconfidence and poor decision-making is in the spotlight, thanks to a study published in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

People vary widely in their awareness of what they do and don’t know, which is referred to as one’s metacognitive ability, or metacognition. In general, they can be too confident when evaluating their performance, and this often leads to poor decision-making with potentially disastrous consequences.

In a study led by scientists from Monash University in Australia and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, the team analyzed data from the ReSource Project, a Max Planck Institute-led unique, large scale study on Eastern and Western methods of mental training.

In the context of a social cognition task performed in the brain scanner, the volunteers watched a video of a person telling a story and then had to answer a difficult question about what the person said. Subsequently, people indicated how confident they felt their response was correct. The researchers then measured how good people were in evaluating their own accuracy.

“The more confident people were about their performance, the higher the activation in brain areas such as the striatum, an area often associated with reward processing,” first author Dr. Pascal Molenberghs of Monash University said.

When combined, the results indicate that although being confident entails a reward-like component, it can lead to overconfidence, which is associated with lower metacognitive ability and can in turn undermine decision making.


The article can be found at: Molenberghs et al. (2016) Neural Correlates of Metacognitive Ability and of Feeling Confident: A Large-scale fMRI Study.

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Source: Monash University; Photo: Pixabay.
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