Evaluating one’s own performance on a task, typically known as ‘self-assessment’, is perceived as a fundamental skill, but people appear poorly calibrated to their abilities. Studies seem to show poorer calibration for low performers than for high performers, which could indicate worse metacognitive ability among low performers relative to others (the Dunning–Kruger effect). By developing a rational model of self-assessment, we show that such an effect could be produced by two psychological mechanisms, in either isolation or conjunction: influence of prior beliefs about ability or a relation between performance and skill at determining correctness on each problem. To disentangle these explanations, we conducted a large-scale replication of a seminal paper with approximately 4,000 participants in each of two studies. Comparing the predictions of two variants of our rational model provides support for low performers being less able to estimate whether they are correct in the domains of grammar and logical reasoning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience