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Confidence to spare: individual differences in cognitive and metacognitive arrogance and competence

Abstract

While some individuals are able to confidently make competent choices, others make poor decisions but are unjustifiably confident. What are their individual characteristics? This study examined individual differences in cognitive and metacognitive competence and arrogance. In doing so, we determined the role of metacognitive confidence and self-monitoring in competence and arrogance. We also investigated the predictive validity of the resulting model to decision-making competence. Psychology undergraduates (N = 180) completed measures of intelligence, on-task confidence, arrogant-and dogmatic-like traits and thinking dispositions. Confirmatory Factor Analysis revealed that the most parsimonious solution was a hierarchical two-factor model defined by broad Cognitive and Metacognitive Competence and Arrogance factors. The broad Competence was defined by positive loadings from Intelligence and Confidence factors and a negative loading from the Dogmatism factor. The broad Arrogance factor was defined by positive loadings from Confidence, Arrogance, and Dogmatism factors, but no loading from the Intelligence. Therefore, the study determined that the Confidence trait loaded on both factors while a first-order Intelligence factor loaded on Competence only. Thus, while arrogant individuals were as confident as competent individuals, this confidence was not justified by their performance and ability. Moreover, Arrogance positively predicted higher bias, confidence, prediction and evaluation estimates, but not actual performance on a decision task. In contrast, the Competence factor positively predicted the accuracy of performance. Supporting and extending the Koriat’s (1997) cue utilization theory, the current results indicated that test- and (systematic) individual-specific sources of diagnostic cues underlie judgment accuracy, however, they seem to play different roles for individuals based on their relative standing within the Cognitive and Metacognitive Competence and Arrogance taxonomy. Extending Dunning et.al (2003), some “people tend to be blissfully unaware of their incompetence” and are “triply cursed” as they are also dogmatic.

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Notes

  1. We acknowledge that there are three measures assessing workplace arrogance (Johnson et al., 2010), intellectual arrogance in the context of religious leadership (McElroy et al., 2014), and mental materialism and ideological territoriality (Gregg, Mahadevan, & Sedikides, 2017). However, the first two measures are outside the scope of the present research, which focuses on cognitive arrogance. The third measure, although does not capture cognitive and metacognitive arrogance directly, may be of some relevance to its nomological network, but it was published after this research was conceived and executed. Future studies should investigate its convergence with the broad Arrogance factor described below.

  2. Some authors refer to this score as overconfidence bias or calibration bias (e.g., Bruine de Bruin & Parker, 2005; Yates, 1990). In this paper, however, we will use the term ‘bias’ score only to reflect the fact that people may exhibit both, over- and under-confidence (see Stankov, 1999 for a review).

  3. The tasks were administered as part of a combined protocol for two separate theses. The second project compared self-report measures of the Confidence trait to on-task confidence assessments. The measures capturing self-assessment of confidence and various self-concepts are outside of the scope of this paper and are not presented here.

  4. The Pessimism Bias score of the Optimistic Bias measure also had a low reliability estimate (alpha = .50). Given that it was not entirely within the scope of this research, it was omitted from all further analyses.

  5. The graphical depiction of the three models which had relevant bias scores as Dependent Variables were virtually identical; thus, the model based on the confidence bias score only is presented as a Figure 6. The results for each model, however, are shown in Table 6.

  6. Given that correlation between second-order Competence and Arrogance factors did not reach statistical significance (r = −.21, p =. 077), it was omitted and not modelled in Models 2 a-c.

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The first author of this manuscript is acting as the Associate Editor of the Metacognition and Learning journal and the Guest Editor of the SI titled Applied Metacognition. The manuscript, however, will be handled by the second Guest Editor of this SI, Prof Susanne Narciss. Thus, the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Kleitman, S., Hui, J.SW. & Jiang, Y. Confidence to spare: individual differences in cognitive and metacognitive arrogance and competence. Metacognition Learning 14, 479–508 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-019-09210-x

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Keywords

  • Confidence
  • Competence
  • Arrogance
  • Self-monitoring
  • Bias
  • Metacognition
  • Decisionmaking
  • Individual differences