Diving and the Dunning Kruger Effect: Definition & Examples

Diving and the Dunning Kruger Effect: Definition & Examples - La Galigo Liveaboard

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. Conversely, those with high ability at a task may underestimate their own competence. This phenomenon can have significant implications in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional environments. In this article, we will explore the definition of the Dunning-Kruger effect and provide examples to illustrate how it manifests in real-life situations related to diving. We will also discuss the potential consequences of this cognitive bias and ways to mitigate its impact.

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect?

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which individuals with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. This occurs because they lack the metacognitive skills to assess their own competence accurately. Instead, they often exhibit unwarranted confidence in their abilities. This can lead to a hindrance in seeking improvement or learning from others, as they may not see the need for it due to their inflated self-assurance.

One classic example of the Dunning-Kruger effect can be seen in the field of driving. Research has shown that individuals who are less skilled at driving often rate themselves as more competent compared to others. This overestimation of their abilities can lead to dangerous driving behaviours and a lack of willingness to improve through further training or education.

In addition to driving I think we can all recall examples of when we have also seen this in diving. The open water student who has just got his licence. Although they know they are supposed to stick to 18 metres, they head to the local dive shop with their friends, rent some tanks and take their own boat out on a 35m wreck dive. Over confident, this person does not know the dangers of Nitrogen narcosis, especially when in the confined space of a wreck. 

Understanding the Dunning-Kruger effect can be the first step in overcoming it. By cultivating self-awareness, seeking feedback from others, practising humility in our expertise, and doing follow up dive training courses individuals can begin to mitigate the impact of this cognitive bias. Being open to learning from others, including instructors and more experienced divers and valuing constructive criticism can also contribute to overcoming the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Understanding the Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is named after psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, who first described the phenomenon in 1999. This effect occurs due to a lack of metacognitive ability, which is the capacity to recognize one’s own incompetence. Individuals who are less skilled in a particular area often lack the knowledge to assess their own performance accurately, leading to overestimation of their abilities. Difficulty in communications underwater can exacerbate this. Maybe your buddy is doing something wrong that you can not effectively communicate underwater with hand signs, and by the time you have hit the surface after the dive up to an hour has passed and you forget to raise it with them.

On the other hand, individuals with high expertise in a given task may underestimate their abilities because they assume that others possess similar knowledge and skills. This can lead to a lack of confidence and reluctance to showcase their competence. This is probably more your Divemaster realm, experienced enough to have the knowledge, but not at the point where you have taught hundreds of students like an Instructor, so have that reassurance that you are well advanced of most other divers you meet.

Understanding the Dunning-Kruger effect is important because it can impact decision-making, problem-solving, and overall performance. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of this bias and actively seek feedback and self-reflection to gain a more accurate understanding of their capabilities. As a recreational diver or professional diver you should reflect on exactly where you sit on the spectrum as you read this article. In the next section, we will delve into real-life examples to further illustrate this effect.

Komodo Diving June Offer - La Galigo Liveaboard

What are the causes of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

The Dunning-Kruger effect is caused by a lack of metacognitive ability, which is the ability to reflect on one’s own knowledge and skills. People who are affected by this cognitive bias often overestimate their abilities because they lack the expertise to recognise their own incompetence. Additionally, those with limited knowledge on a subject are unable to accurately assess their own performance, leading to a false sense of confidence. As a result, individuals may exhibit unwarranted self-assurance, ultimately hindering their ability to seek improvement or learn from others.

Are You Less Competent Than You Think?

Examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect can be found in various contexts, such as in the workplace, in academic settings, and even in everyday life, and of course why we are here – Scuba Diving. For instance, a person may believe they have a deep understanding of a complex topic when, in reality, they have only a superficial grasp of it.

Understanding the Dunning-Kruger effect can help individuals become more aware of their own limitations and seek out opportunities for growth and learning. By recognizing the potential for overestimating one’s own abilities, individuals can take steps to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to truly become competent in their respective areas. This cognitive bias can have significant implications in decision-making and problem-solving. For example, an individual may confidently make decisions based on limited information, leading to suboptimal outcomes. I don’t need to tell you how dangerous this could be when it comes to diving. In academic settings, students may overestimate their comprehension of a subject, leading to poor performance on assessments, which also applies to students of diving courses.

To combat the Dunning-Kruger effect, individuals can engage in practices that promote self-awareness and reflection. Seeking feedback from peers and experts, actively soliciting constructive criticism, and consistently evaluating one’s own performance can help mitigate the impact of this bias. Additionally, fostering a mindset of continuous learning and humility can support individuals in recognising and addressing their own limitations. Although PADI does cop a lot of flack as “Put Another Dollar In” for the number of courses they constantly push, when you think in this perspective it is actually a good thing for the safety of all divers. By creating a mindset of constant improvement and learning, it makes the dive industry as a whole, a safer place.

Recognizing the prevalence of the Dunning-Kruger effect underscores the importance of fostering a culture that values self-awareness, growth, and expertise. Acknowledging our own limitations and actively striving to expand our knowledge and skills is crucial for personal and professional development.

How can you overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect?

To overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect, it is important to cultivate self-awareness and openness to feedback. Developing metacognitive skills through self-reflection and seeking input from others can help individuals gain a more accurate understanding of their abilities and knowledge. Engaging in continuous learning and remaining humble about one’s expertise also plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Furthermore, encouraging a culture of constructive criticism and valuing expertise in others can contribute to minimising the effects of this cognitive bias. Don’t just surround yourself with yes men, and leave your ego at the door to take on what others say. We will all have a better dive industry because of it.

Enjoy a Diving Trip in Raja Ampat and Komodo with La Galigo Liveaboard

The top liveaboard options - La Galigo Liveaboard

La Galigo is known as one of the best liveaboard diving boats in Raja Ampat Indonesia, and it offers trips to well-known diving destinations such as Komodo and Raja Ampat. The Coral Triangle is located in Indonesia, which has the highest marine biodiversity on the planet.

La Galigo Liveaboard Diving was founded in 2015 by two avid divers who wanted to explore some of Indonesia’s pristine reefs but found that all existing scuba diving options were frequently out of their budget, and wanted to provide an affordable option for everyone to be able to explore these beautiful places.

La Galigo Liveaboard Diving in Raja Ampat & Komodo is a friends and family affair, and our liveaboard diving trips are always focused on fun, safety, guest comfortability, and are exceptional value for money. Our trip prices range from $2,160 for a six-day Komodo liveaboard diving trip to $3,815 for an eight-day Raja Ampat liveaboard diving trip. The price includes four meals a day, diving or snorkelling three to four times a day, and land tours.

Where do you want to go liveaboard diving? Check our trip schedules below ▾

Share it: