Overconfidence, Narcissism Can Work for Humans, Study Suggests

on September 15 2011 3:48 PM
Army servicemen sit on the ground as they watch a woman walk past, while waiting for instructions, during a rally near the parliament headquarters in Bishkek
Army servicemen sit on the ground as they watch a woman walk past, while waiting for instructions, during a rally near the parliament headquarters in Bishkek August 15, 2011. "April 7" party supporters gathered to protest against the decision of local authorities to transfer former Kyrgyz defence minister Baktybek Kalyev, who is on trial due to April 2010 revolt, from jail to house arrest for medical reasons, according to local media. Reuters

Overconfidence and narcissism can be good for humans, a new study suggests.

Such traits can lead to success in a variety of situations, including business and war, researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, San Diego, said.  

Researchers used a mathematical model to play out the effects that overconfidence would possibly have over generations, Psych Central reported. The model covered different types of human competition.

Results showed that overconfidence can work when a person is uncertain about their opponent's strengths, National Geographic reported. It can also help when someone is faced with a new, unfamiliar situation, Psych Central reported, and it does not hurt when the prize in question outweighs the cost of getting it.

The model shows that overconfidence can plausibly evolve in wide range of environments, as well as the situations in which it will fail, study co-author Dominic Johnson of the University of Edinburgh told World Science.

Too much overconfidence, however, can lead to disaster.

The question now is how to channel human overconfidence so we can exploit its benefits while avoiding occasional disasters, Johnson said, World Science reported.

The study results were published in the journal Nature.

 

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