Encouraging people to increase their self-confidence became the norm as it’s assumed that most people need more of it. However, there is something on the other side of the confidence continuum, and that is so-called irrational confidence.
Irrational confidence is the type of confidence that makes people attempt dangerous things or makes them make fools of themselves on national TV.
It is also the preferred mode of those who operate according to the fake-it-till-you-make-it principle.
Although a lot of people who are irrational about their abilities fail miserably, this attitude does indeed sometimes work.
When you feel confident that you will succeed at something, you are more likely to work in that direction. Both confidence and overconfidence can increase your motivation and self-esteem.
Irrational confidence is related to psychological phenomenons such as illusory superiority and the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is different from healthy risk-taking, where people are aware of their limitations and possible risks.
Those with irrational confidence believe they know everything there is to know about the given subject, and they are confident in their abilities to handle the situation even when they unmistakably lack skills, experience, and sometimes intelligence to do so.
In one of the experiments set up by Professor David Dunning and his student Justin Kruger, students who overestimated their academic performance had the lowest scores.
In the corporate world, irrationally confident people get mixed results. On the one hand, they can often get the doors open, and they may even move up the ladder.
Because it seems like they know what they are talking about, others may begin to rely on them, put them in charge and trust them their resources.
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However, because of their inability to accurately assess the situation, they may sometimes jeopardize the projects they work on or waste investors’ money.
Another tendency is to become job-hoppers. After all, you can fake competence only for a short time. When others begin to realize that the faker isn’t as competent as they once thought, it’s time to switch companies.
How to recognize an irrationally confident person
Here are some common characteristical signs of people with irrational confidence syndrome:
People with unrealistic optimism or optimism bias tend to believe that they are unlikely to experience negative events, be that related to their personal or professional lives. As a result, they may put themselves and those around them in situations involving more risk.
It is common for overconfident people to think that their qualities, traits, and personal attributes are unique when in reality, they are not. They believe that things that are challenging for others are easy for them, thanks to the unique qualities they supposedly have.
Illusion of control
Overconfident people tend to behave as if they have much more control than they actually have. This false sense of control is one of the reasons why their planning often fails.
People with irrational confidence syndrome tend to underestimate how much time they need to complete tasks. This is especially true for complex tasks and long-term planning.
So are overconfident people celebrated and rewarded, or do people avoid them?
According to research, confidence, in general, may lead to a higher social status; however, another study showed that overly positive statements about oneself were beneficial only when there was no reason to believe that they were inaccurate.
So while dialing up your confidence for a job interview is probably a good thing, having evidence to support your claims will bring the best results.