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Challenge to Know Yourself

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Challenge to Know Yourself

Self-esteem is created from our own thoughts and feelings about ourselves and ranges in various degrees. People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains (Kruger and Dunning, 1999). Someone who exhibits low self-esteem may find very little value in their own thoughts or opinions which could result in the belief that others are better than them. It can also induce a feeling of failure which may hold one back from succeeding and lead to underachievement.

A healthy self-esteem is described as having balance and a more realistic view of one's self. When you exhibit healthy self-esteem you recognize the positive characteristics of yourself and are consciously aware of your shortcomings. One is also open to learning and feedback which is essential in acquiring and mastering new skills (MayoClinic, 2011).

A person with a high self-esteem tends to have an unrealistic view of them self. This type of perception can lead to a feeling of superiority and arrogance among their peers. It can also lead to incompetence that a person so afflicted is incapable of knowing that he is incompetent (Kruger and Dunning, 1999). Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make bad choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it as in the case against McArthur Wheeler (Kruger and Dunning, 1999).

When a person holds two cognitions that are inconsistent with one another, he

will experience the pressure of an aversive motivational state called cognitive dissonance (Bem, 1967). Cognitive dissonance is most powerful and most upsetting when it threatens our self-esteem (Aronson, Wilson and Akert, 2010). As a result of this threat we try to reduce it in one of three ways. We can change our behavior to bring it in line with the dissonant behavior, we can attempt to justify our behavior through changing one of the dissonant cognitions or we can attempt to justify our behavior by adding new cognitions (Aronson, Wilson and Akert, 2010). For example, if someone receives negative feedback that points to a lack of skill, they may attribute that failure to some other factor other than what it really is, again failing to understand why it occurred (Kruger and Dunning, 1999).

Researchers from Cornell University found that participants in the bottom-quartile tended to overestimate their abilities to perform well on assessments. They were also unaware that they had performed poorly and thought they were actually above average. They found that incompetence not only caused poor performance but also the inability to recognize that one's performance was bad. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skills (Kruger and Dunning, 1999).

The participants in the bottom-quartile couldn't discern what one had answered



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