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Into the mind of Mr. X

If the Availability heuristic is useful to explain the choice of the topics addressed by Mr. X, the Dunning-Kruger Effect can explain why Mr. X in declaring his thoughts has always been so convinced, without ever questioning himself.

We can easily imagine that during the periods of peak of a specific trend, Mr. X has done his research on the web in order to collect some information to publish. The fact that he searched something on social networks or on internet for few minutes gave him the illusion of superior knowledge on a topic.

As shown in the image below, the moment in which the Dunning-Kruger Effect manifest itself correspond to the instant in which the level of competence is very low.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect illustrated

This seems exactly to be the case. Mr. X believes that he is more well-informed when he actually just has a baseline understanding of the trending topic. As a result of his overconfidence, unaware of the mind trap he is falling into, he proudly declares his strong convictions.

Finally, given that Mr. X gets most of his information from Facebook and other social media platforms, he is prone to the In-group Bias.

In case you didn’t know, Social Media platforms have algorithms designed to show us more content based on the posts we have liked and, as a result this system tends to make us find other people who match our perspectives. In the case of Mr. X, when he happens to interact with a trending post on Facebook, very likely he will see comments and shares from other people who think and believe in the same things he does. This faith in the ability of his like-minded peers online is what gives him confidence to share his thoughts so freely and dismiss contrary information, by using the likes and comments of others as proof that his beliefs at a given moment are valid.

This effect is then amplified by the fact that Mr. X eliminates any conflicting opinion by blocking the profile and consequently preventing the expression of the opinion to those who do not think like him. To test this last statement, I asked 5 people to comment on some of the posts proposed in this time frame by Mr. X, trying to politely point out that some of the data provided by him were not true. The result was the one said above.

In the face of all this, those who used to laugh at Mr. X at the beginning of the article may no longer laugh now.

The invitation of this article is therefore to become aware of how these 3 cognitive biases act. Try to think and document properly before drawing a conclusion, look critically at the news that are communicated and avoid rejecting opinions different from ours are key aspects in order not to end up like the poor Mr. X.

By Lorenzo Marchetti

Laureato in economia aziendale e management con lode alla Bocconi, ora frequenta la specialistica in International Management, sempre alla Bocconi.

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