The “I know I’m right” syndrome

“There’s evidence that the more misinformed we are, the more strongly we insist that we’re correct. ”

“In a fascinating piece of research published in 2000, the political psychologist James H. Kuklinski and his colleagues reported findings from a random telephone survey of 1,160 Illinois residents.  They found few who were well informed about the facts of the welfare system: only 3 percent got more than half the questions right.  That wasn’t very surprising, but what should be warning to us all is this: those holding the least accurate beliefs were the ones expressing the highest confidence in those beliefs.”

“Of those who said correctly that only 7 percent of American families were getting welfare, just under half said they were very confident or fairly highly confident in their answer.  But 74 percent of those who grossly overestimated the percentage of those on welfare said they were very confident or fairly highly confident, even though the figure they gave (25 percent) was more than three times too high.  This I know I’m right syndrome means that those who most need to revise the pictures in their heads are the very ones least likely to change their thinking.  Of such people, it is sometimes said that they are often in error but never in doubt.”

Unspun by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

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