Self-Delusion Can Help You Win

But too much overconfidence can be disastrous: study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 24, 2011 12:30 PM CDT
Self-delusion can be a boon, a study finds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Whether you’re looking to win on the battlefield or in the boardroom, overconfidence may be better for you than clear-eyed analysis of your chances, a study suggests. Researchers in Scotland and California created a mathematical model to compare different strategies: overconfident, under-confident, and accurate assessments of one’s chances at success, UPI reports. Overconfident people tend to reap more benefits than unbiased people, the study found, when the rewards are great enough to justify seeking them.

But too much confidence can still be a bad thing, note the researchers, who cite the 2003 Iraq war and the 2008 financial crisis as examples of excessive overconfidence backfiring. “The model shows that overconfidence can plausibly evolve in wide range of environments, as well as the situations in which it will fail,” one researcher says. “The question now is how to channel human overconfidence so we can exploit its benefits while avoiding occasional disasters." (Read more delusion stories.)

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