Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Silicon Valley Tech Wunderkinds Overestimate Their Own Smarts and Abilities

In the field of social psychology, there’s a concept known as the “fundamental attribution error.” Believe it or not, it has a lot to do with Silicon Valley and tech companies.

Basically, it says that all humans (including you and me) are born biased to over-value the importance of personal characteristics in driving others’ outcomes, but under-value the situational factors in driving others’ outcomes.

Yet, when we explain our own achievements in life, we are biased to over-value our personal characteristics as explaining our successes while also over-valuing our situation factors in explaining our failures.

From Wikipedia:

As a simple example, if Alice saw Bob trp over a rock and fall, Alice might consider Bob to be clumsy or careless (dispositional). If Alice tripped over the same rock herself, she would be more likely to blame the placement of the rock (situational).

In Silicon Valley, this type of thinking is so prevalent, you could say the “fundamental attribution error” has become “groupthink.” Everyone believes that the sun rises and sets on their pillow case.

Read the full post in Forbes

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