On a scale of one to 10, you probably think you’re a seven. And you wouldn’t be alone. While it’s impossible for most people to be above average for a specific quality, people think they are better than most people in many arenas, from charitable behavior to work performance. The phenomenon, known as illusory superiority, is so stubbornly persistent that psychologists would be surprised if it didn’t show up in their studies, said David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell who has studied the effect for decades. – Article CBS
As odd as it is, most people think they are smarter, better and more charitable than most people. Most people think they are better than most people? This is a paradox and cannot be the case obviously. I think this speaks to our very human and fallen inclination to sooth our insecurity by being more critical with others than we are with ourselves. This leads to an air of criticism and malicious talk. It’s so easy to pick other a part. We need to resist the urge! Americans seem especially well versed in this skill of tearing people down and deconstructing others. Below is a quick definition of what illusory superiority is. A bias too which most people fall prey too.
In the field of social psychology, illusory superiority is a cognitive bias whereby a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons. As such, illusory superiority is one of many positive illusions, relating to the self, that are evident in the study of intelligence, the effective performance of tasks and tests, and the possession of desirable personal characteristics and personality traits. llusory superiority has been found in individuals’ comparisons of themselves with others in a wide variety of different aspects of life, including performance in academic circumstances (such as class performance, exams and overall intelligence), in working environments (for example in job performance), and in social settings (for example in estimating one’s popularity, or the extent to which one possesses desirable personality traits, such as honesty or confidence), as well as everyday abilities requiring particular skill. – Wikipedia
I once was in a bookstore studying for a message and could not help but overhear this table of elderly women discuss for well over an hour how they could run the country better than the current president. Now, it’s possible they could very well contribute on some positive level but I thought it curious the level of their confidence and bravado. By their tone you’d assume they had unravelled all the mysteries of the universe and understood all things. In their flawless intellect they saw with absolute clarity and were in perfect accord!
Regardless of the reasons for such miscalculations as people of faith self-awareness is something we all need to grow in and insecurity something we need to grow out of. Our ability to love others is often times directly affected by our level of insecurity and self-awareness. We need to stop finding value in some over estimation of self and deconstruction of others.
What if we looked at people like we survey a sunset or look upon a beautiful landscape. We don’t criticize the lack of symmetry a tree or mountain might have. We are not disgusted by the uneven horizon or the randomness of clouds painted in the sky. We accept the inconsistency in the patterns and creation as beauty. What if we appreciate people in their unique expression. I am not saying we have to agree with all people and all ideas. I am saying we should show respect to all people in that they are people. It’s too easy to devalue others in an effort to overcome the vacuum of our own insecurity.
“In humility consider others as more important than yourself.” – Phil 2:3
Jesus provided the radical image of a person tending to a speck of sand in a friends eye while bearing the burden of having a plank of wood stuck in their own. We often times grow blind to our own issues, dull to our own need and at the same time develop a very keen sensitivity and sharp awareness toward weaknesses in others. Self-awareness is essential if we want to grow in our service to others.
“Anyone that wants to be the greatest must become the servant of all.” – Matt 23:11
See the beauty in others. Add value and dignify the people around you. Show respect and honor. Have decorum. I can’t help but think of the Laodicean church that Jesus rebuked in the book of Revelation. They were ignorant of their real position before God and possessed no self-awareness whatsoever.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. – Rev 3:15-19
We don’t realize the impact these delusions have on our capacity to love others. We have to be clear to see value.