New research reveals that the more people think they know about a topic in general, the more likely they are to allege knowledge of completely made-up information and false facts, a phenomenon known as "overclaiming." The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
In one set of experiments, the researchers tested whether individuals who perceived themselves to be experts in personal finance would be more likely to claim knowledge of fake financial terms.
As expected, people who saw themselves as financial wizards were most likely to claim expertise of the bogus finance terms.
"The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms," psychological scientist Stav Atir of Cornell University, first author on the study, says. "The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography."
"For instance," Atir explains, "people's assessment of how much they know about a particular biological term will depend in part on how much they think they know about biology in general."
In another experiment, the researchers warned one set of 49 participants that some of the terms in a list would be made up. Even after receiving the warning, the self-proclaimed experts were more likely to confidently claim familiarity with fake terms.
from Science Daily