Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence

People who came from higher social classes were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills, a new study found. This overconfidence was interpreted by strangers as competence.

Comments: 211

  1. The problem is that in a society built on trust, confidence is often seen as a proxy for competence. I mean if you’re a sane, rational individual, you ought to be able to gauge your ability to perform in specific tasks accurately. If we can’t trust that people are confident because they’re competent, how can we judge strangers on tasks they haven’t yet performed?

  2. @boognish - I don't think the issue is overconfident people consciously deceiving others. I think it's most people have a cognitive bias towards competence for many skills. For example, if you ask a large audience who thinks they're an above average driver most people will raise their hand.

  3. @mark This is supposedly true and is used to show that people are stupid. Actually nobody really knows what an average driver would be. Most know they’re not horrible so must be doing Ok.

  4. I would expect our televisual culture amplifies the kinds of distortions that occur between competence and overconfidence. All in all this is a rather sad, unfortunate and regressive phenomenon.

  5. Good article. You see it everywhere in society. Fortunately there are a substantial number of competent people out there, working hard, often not getting credit. Often fixing the problems caused by the upper-class twits.

  6. Obviously, class and confidence are grossly overestimated and overblown by the sociopathic. Naming no names.

  7. I don't know if I buy this entirely. I've seen a lot of overconfidence, if not outright arrogance, in low class urban Brooklyn. Very often it's the most intense street hustlers that go for the income they want, talk back to authority, challenge whoever walks by them, and who shamelessly go for the hottest girls. It's not the bookish crowd that lounges at the yacht club in Rockport, Massachusetts, even though there certainly will be a few born to money who fit this description of overconfidence.

  8. @Tim I was thinking this too. But perhaps there is a difference between a true, innate sense of overconfidence in your abilities to perform any task life throws at your (and then some), and arrogant bravado that is actually a facade to mask the deep feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy.

  9. @Tim It doesn't have to be exclusive. It's possible for more than one group of people to be overconfident to the point of arrogance, just as it's possible for more than a single set of circumstances to cause or create that overconfidence. These studies looked at a single idea. A study based on your observation would be an interesting corollary to these.

  10. @Tim Thank you for some nuance. I think what is being talked about here as overconfidence really makes better sense in other terms. Class enables confidence not because of some superior skillfulness or knowledge. It comes from the comforts of power. Even damaging missteps, if not outright crimes, can be handled. It is loyalty that counts and saves. It is loyalty and power that enable what we've seen in recent years. Those benefiting from competence and merit most directly are those who do not have the benefits of these, and those who can make use of their skill.

  11. A sense of entitlement and superiority may also feed overconfidence among the elite. Having experienced more advantages than other people throughout life, they may expect to continue having the edge over other competitors regardless of what field of competition they enter.

  12. How appropriate that this article is published now. This might explain Donald Trump.

  13. @William McMillan Might?

  14. Did anyone else keep thinking about Trump while reading this article ?

  15. @c-c-g I did. It may explain why Trump has declared all-out warfare to prevent his federal income tax returns, his banking/financial information, and his high school and college grades from becoming public. To do so would prove that he is a big blowhard with a phony resume.

  16. I kept thinking about Pete Buttigieg while reading this article.

  17. @Scoot As too accomplished to run for president?

  18. "Dr. Kennedy said she had been encouraged to find that if you show people actual facts about a person, the elevated status that comes with overconfidence often fades away." I have to wonder, what kind of people? Clearly showing actual facts about Trump has not lowered his status in the eyes of his supporters a whit.

  19. This may not match up with the Dunning-Kruger effect, which to my understanding says that people who are less competent are far more likely to overestimate their cognitive skills than people who actually have high skills. In one interpretation, and one I have seen plenty of, people sometimes have no idea how talented some others really are compared to themselves. Perhaps a difference here is that the study did not measure the same thing as a straight cognitive skills assessment.

  20. @Boomer Headhunters call it “assertiveness”.

  21. @Boomer Competence != Class

  22. So how do voters avoid overvaluing social class and being duped by incompetent wealthy people? It would be wonderful if the experts were right, and that showing people actual facts about a person would mean their perceived elevated status would fade away. But we know that doesn’t work. Despite all of the verified stories and facts about Trump’s incompetence and fraudulent behavior, all it takes is for Trump to tweet “fake news” and “I am the greatest” for his base to ignore the facts and instead continue to worship him.

  23. @John Ranta Yes, Trump is the perfect case study for this phenomenon. People with lower education levels believe him to be a (miraculously relatable) member of the ‘elite’ and give him all the benefits of the doubt that they afford high status individuals because his overconfidence is intoxicating. Educated folks know that Trump is a poser and a wanna-be, not actually an elite, so they view him with all the skepticism that is properly shown to liars and grifters. To them, his overconfidence is galling and criminal. No wonder we live in a bifurcated reality where no one can agree on the truth anymore. These two lenses of perception could not possibly be more different.

  24. @John Ranta Unfortunately, the overconfidence of the "higher class" oftentimes is matched by a confirmation bias in rest who, once they have accepted the greater "competence" of the elite, they resist revisiting their initial impressions in order to avoid cognitive dissonance and discomfort. In other words, it can be easier continuing to support a problematic situation than admitting that a one was wrong to have perceived it as anything else to start with. In the face of betrayal, we all want to save face.

  25. So what. The NYTs is hell bent on upending the way things are and were. The America most of us know and love. For what?To create a society That’s predicated on the educated class relinquishing their position and influence on things that matter? Know wonder Trump will win easily.

  26. @Robert I didn't read "educated class" anywhere in this article. The word I would use to describe the people the author discusses is "entitled" rather than "educated." For instance, Kared Kushner is entitled, and in spite of his inherited and largely unearned class status, thinks he can do everything from solve world hunger to bring peace to the Middle East. As for the Times being "hell bent" on upending the status quo -- if we don't talk about competency and merit as drivers for excellence then we are on a slippery slope to incompetent rule by the entitled elite for a generation -- by which time it won't matter. The world will be on fire.

  27. @Robert - "Know" wonder, indeed.

  28. @Robert I have no idea what you're trying to say

  29. As Socrates said in the Apology, the fool is a person who thinks he is wise in all things because knowledgeable of one skill.

  30. Hahaha. Ever met an investment banker?

  31. This scenario plays out with depressing regularity in military history. The peacetime generals and admirals who are certain they have the skills of Napoleon or Nelson find themselves on the losing side of the initial battles. They are then (hopefully) replaced by those who have real skills.

  32. @John Graybeard Existential crises do have a way of weeding out the overconfident pretty people from those that know how to take calculated risks.

  33. @Michael Cooke Unfortunately, Trump wouldn't recognize an existential crises if it sat on his face. He thinks of himself as a great risk taker but his risks are taken without any consideration of the consequences.

  34. @Roxie We would say he is risk oblivious. Why calculate risks, if someone else is always left holding the ruins?

  35. Thankfully, an overconfident lying co-worker got the boot after only six months on the job. The CV was greatly exaggerated as were the claims in the interviews. The co-worker could never see that his perception of himself was way overrated. This entitled, tall, thin, high-class, can-do-anything approach ultimately failed him. Sorry to the next employer who takes the bait.

  36. @YReader Some people are good at getting jobs, others at doing it. There is often a lack of congruence there.

  37. What I have noticed is that people who are middle-classed, working-class, or poor will often buy whatever the rich person (or the person who is assumed to be rich) is selling, no matter how stupid he or she or the product is. If the rich or assumed-rich person is tall, male, good-looking and wears a suit well, he gets bonus points, and is also assumed to be right, virtuous and blessed.

  38. @Jackie Most of all, the tall, male, good-looking and wears a suit well person should be white.

  39. No mention of Napoleon’s quote: “L’audace, l’audace. Toujours l’audace.” Also “Audacity succeeds as often as it fails.” Most people are plodders, nose to the grindstone, work today as they worked yesterday. In business, military or politics, big success comes to people that solve critical problems that other people could not solve. You have to take chances, chances that could derail your career. Since people rarely take suicide, career or otherwise, missions, these leaders have to believe they can succeed where others failed. That self-confidence, sometimes not merited, does often translate into progress. Our brains are hard wired to recognize these people as leaders. They do not always succeed, but we would have little progress without them.

  40. @Michael Blazin Self-confidence it was, but it was Danton who said  « il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace », at the Assembly, leading to the call to the arms that ended the invasion of the Austrian coalition and to the « proclamation of the republic » in September 1792.

  41. @Michael Blazin And so Napoleon marched into Russia, killing 100s of thousands of innocent people.

  42. @Michael Blazin Ladies and Gentlemen: a good example of what this article is about.

  43. When Stave Jobs and his team went to PARC, they saw the future. One team member realized that Xerox was doing the impossible and decided to write an Apple version...and did. That became QuickDraw and was the foundation of the Macintosh graphics superiority for 20 years. Without overconfidence the impossible doesn't happen.

  44. That then obviously wasn’t overconfidence....... Can we call it belief?

  45. @Mannyv Your description of what happened with Apple at PARC is a little dreamy and convoluted; you're also glamorizing the word "impossible". Impossible means that the solution to a problem is beyond the bounds of possibility, out of the question and not worth considering. The Palo Alto Research Center was the first technology business incubator and Jobs and his team's confidence came from the encouragement of the confident engineers at PARC. Jobs knew his visions were technologically feasible and not impossible.

  46. @Mannyv Seriously. Copying some one else's ideas is admirable? That is exactly the overconfidence we are talking about.

  47. I must admit I am slightly confused at the extent to which these studies rely on the participants' own assessment of their social standing. Is there a possibility that those who are overconfident about their own abilities are likely to be "overconfident" about their own social standing? It looks as though the researchers made some efforts to control for this by asking participants to provide data about more "objective" factors (such as education and income level). But it would be useful to know how these factors were actually taken into account in each of the studies- were they, for example, used to "verify" participants' own assessment of class?

  48. I guess this comes down to “The Unexamined life is not Worth Living” ? I grew up in a poorer town when I moved to a wealthy area. I found my neighbors to be no smarter or less prejudicial but they seemed to have less empathy in general. Amazing how many are born on third base and think they earned it.

  49. I will soon be presenting important new scientific ideas which I see as probably valid - but I’ve been wrong before. If I present these ideas with more confidence than they deserve, many peers will pay attention. Yet, if I exhibit the diffidence the probabilities deserve, it’s likely many will prematurely decide that they are not worth consideration. Is a puzzlement.

  50. One wonders to what extent this reported effect is exacerbated in the US, compared to other nations, by our Calvinist ethos that claims the truly worthy (the Elect) can be identified by the wealth and resources the deity has allowed them to accumulate. While many have forgotten its religious underpinnings, we definitely see this ethos' influence in our Social Darwinism, our treatment of the poor as somehow internally defective rather than hit by circumstance, and in the whole "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" attitude.

  51. @Glenn Ribotsky Yes yes yes! America's culture has been so deformed by Calvinism, and we are still paying a price for the masses believing that godliness has a relationship to your bank account.

  52. We are a society that conflates confidence with competence. It's the confident one who gets hired. I'd be interested to see how women vs men compare.

  53. Money is the status symbol for class in the US. In Europe money is usually something to be wary about when you are assessing someone.

  54. @Jo Ann Agreed. The general consensus of my European friends is to be suspicious of wealth and assume it came from unethical sources.

  55. @Jo Ann I completely agree with you and Roxie. I've never lived in Europe but I've lived in other countries. In my country of birth, a considerable amount of wealth is equated to considerable amount of corruption and bribery. US may pose as a democratic country but it eschewed royalty and replaced it with obscene and exploitation-fueled generational wealth. Wealth is not an indicator of virtue, in most case it indicates a lack of virtue.

  56. @Roxie "Behind every great fortune there is a crime"---Balzac To that, I would like to amend. Money is a magnifying glass. It magnifies any trait that developed in childhood. So, if you start out poor and you are giving, you will be extremely giving when rich; if you are poor & miserly, you will become an extreme miser when rich. You can apply that to any character trait not just related to money. The ability to assess true character is lost on most Americans, mostly because of their idolatry of money, a prism through which they view everything.

  57. Does this help explain how Trump got elected?

  58. This article should be read alongside Linda Gordon’s review of “The Guarded Gate” by Daniel Okrent, which details how highly respected members of the American elite used pseudoscience to foment anti-immigrant legislation.

  59. Emotional Health (EH) is the foundation of health and yet thee is no testing or manual for EH. Also EH is confused with Mental Health when these are two different entities. EH is determined through upbringing. In America the vast majority are brought up on the, 'I am the best' belief. Thus most Americans have a part phony, overconfident self-image and not just the upper class. This results in a trophy self-image that seeks a trophy life without having the means to achieve it. Any wonder that America is the #1 emotionally challenged country in the world. Look at society today. It is an emotional health emergency! There is emotionally challenged behavior all around from individual to group to country. Look at all the wars and bloated defense budgets. This trophy self-image is the reason why the social ills like drug addiction, suicide, divorce, bad relationships, unhappiness, sleeplessness etc. is as bad as ever even when civilization, inventions, science are all improving. America needs experts and leaders who will ask the following questions: 1) How come infrastructure, incomes, inventions, education, sciences are all improving and yet drug addictions, suicides, divorce, sleeplessness, unhappiness, tiredness etc. are as bad as ever? 2) How come Black girls are thriving and their brothers are to a larger extent messed up? 3) Emotional Health is the foundation of health and so why is there no testing or manual for emotional health?

  60. People who have learned to appear competent appear competent. Wow! There's an amazing discovery! Anything new to report?

  61. Look at trump. Tall, not classy but basically talks his way into everything. He had more losses than wins but he keeps touting his wins both as president and a developer. Deeply insecure, he cannot stop talking and half the time people just give up and walk away, knowing he's speaking nonsense. Too bad most of the country bought his act.

  62. @Meighan Corbett That is because Donald Trump is a white male. There is not level of incompetence too low for them. The same applies to police officers.

  63. The inexplicable success of the Tory party, in the face of total failure to achieve any of their stated goals.

  64. "More knowledge, less ego. More ego, less knowledge." Albert Einstein "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure." Mark Twain “Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself.” FDR Dunning–Kruger Effect: When low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

  65. @Anam Cara And still we don’t heed their wisdom and elect people such as 45 to office.

  66. Who cares what people think of themselves? All that confidence building for the incompetent is counterproductive.

  67. The problem here is that many people of a higher social class eventually rise to a level of incompetence. For example, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, et al.

  68. Add Barack Obama to that list.

  69. @American Still upset that Barack Obama became president of the United States. I suggest you do what you tell African Americans about slavery. Get over it.

  70. The results of this study are verified day after day after day. In fact, lately they are confirmed on an hourly basis. Presidential tweets.

  71. Where does "poor but educated" rank on the social class scale? How do such individuals rank themselves, and how do others rank them? And how competent are they as compared to others?

  72. More years ago than I can remember, when I once mis-used the word "class", my grandmother told me that "class" has absolutely nothing to do with wealth, power or position. She said class is about how one treats others, regardless of their material condition or possessions. That one could be, as she put it, "poor as a church mouse", and still be a person of good class. She said a person who has one sandwich, and gives half of it to someone who has no sandwich and is also hungry, is of higher class than the rich man who tosses a dollar to a beggar on the street. My grandmother had a lot of other things to say on the dubject - but I am sure you get the point, and I can incline to be didactic, so.....

  73. So then ladies, in the oft remarked meetings where your ideas are given less credence than a man’s, your confidence is taken as a marker for your own opinion of the worth of your idea; and your idea only gets one chance to make a first impression.

  74. No Charlie, that doesn’t work... once a male colleague and I were in a series of tense meetings, he & I opposed to 2 men. Early on, I complained about not being listened to and talked over. So he and I ran an experiment. I told him my ideas before the meeting- he’d talk for me and he was heard. I spoke his ideas and I was denigrated and ignored. I was confident, since they were his confident ideas... made no difference. My colleague told me he was happy he was a male because he had no ideas how to overcome that behavior.

  75. Goes hand-in-hand with the 'Peter Principle': seemingly 'competent' (because of their unflappable demeanor) managers keep rise to a level beyond their competency .... (but it then still takes everyone a long while to realize it [they themselves never realize it]).

  76. Oh, the people below them are not bamboozled, they have to clean up the mess left behind. The higher ups just move the anointed ones from place to place quickly so the stink of failure and incompetence doesn’t stick!

  77. Who would have guessed? The billionaires all think they have the magic bullet for K-12 education. So far, none of them have made a positive difference. Gates was convinced the magic was class size and paid for small classes. The outcome? No change.

  78. @Boston Barry Interesting. It would seem that those most likely to genuflect to the rich are other wealthy folks. That would make for an interesting study.

  79. @Anne Oide It seems to me that those most likely to genuflect to the rich are ordinary people who spend a great deal of their leisure time in the congregation of the 24-Hour Church of the Celebrity. How else do you explain the fascination with the Kardashians' shoes, D. Trumps gold toilets and Royal Babies? There is a cult following of the lifestyles of the rich and famous populated by a majority of those 60-80% of us who live paycheck to paycheck. That too would make for an interesting study.

  80. That "celebrity" stuff is just "trash news" media junk! For all of their appearances in the National Enquirer, or some glossy, show business or "fashion" oriented magazines, those people are barely noticed by the majority of real.people, who actually have lives! How many times have you seen the Kardashians mentioned in the "A" section of your local newspaper? I cannot recall EVER seeing such a thing. A rare mention in the Sunday magazine supplement perhaps, but that is all! "Cult following" I don't think so. Mere name recognition does not a following make! That name recognition is sufficient to make me skip over an article, or, if on a magazine cover, pass on it completely! I do agree, however, that Kardashian and Trump likely belong in the same trashy category. You can dress it up and paint it gold, but that does not make it worthy of attention or emulation. It is still - well - what it is, or they are! Use your own imagination for he correct descriptive.

  81. They had to conduct a study to discover this? It’s been as glaringly obvious as the nose on my face for years.

  82. I'm a baby boomer. I watched my daughters generation fawn over their kids and praise them when no praise was due. It is eerie to watch people trip, fumble, stumble and leave a path of garbage in their wake while all the time thinking they are gods gift and can do no wrong. You can't even explain it to them. The critical thought processes are missing in their brains.

  83. @Chris Have you watched them closely? I work with these young people daily, they work extremely hard, think critically, take themselves and their work very seriously as do my children. It helps no one and suggests little to talk about an entire generation being somehow broken.

  84. Like many others, I, too, have observed children of acquaintances and relatives who are constantly praised and puffed and who turn out as obnoxious little beings. However I have also noticed children treated the same way who seem to sense the fraudulence and become less confident because they know they are not what people think they are. Wish I understood it better.

  85. Food, safety, comfort and wealth breeds confidence and self assurance; hunger, danger, discomfort and poverty breeds desperation and lack of confidence. You do not need to make a study to learn these behaviors.

  86. However, successfully overcoming danger, hunger, poverty, etc. Even to the point of survival, notwithstanding the attainment of "wealth" or social position - both artificial indicator of an organism's "success", usually result in a considerable boost to self confidence, which often lead to even greater success! There is even some evidence that there are chemical changes inside the body following a "win", real or perceived, over a negative circumstance or challenge.

  87. If you're so smart, why ain't you rich? (Whalen)

  88. @maryea Hey, you think that being rich is the goal of every person of success? Not everyone prays to the money god.

  89. Seems like the research is also validating the “Dunning–Kruger effect”, a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. According to Wikipedia “ It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability.” This cognitive bias in “upper class” persons can apparently get one all the way to the White House!

  90. Jus because some "wannabe" gave it a name, does not make it a real thing! "Cognition" is NOT the same as education, nor even innate intelligence. Cognition has more to do with awareness - usually relating to a physical environment - an example would be the perception of an approaching sppeding car, or a threatening person. It is only synomymous with certain kinds of intelligence or understanding, though it is often incorrectly applied to those qualities generally.

  91. @Concerned MD Dunning-Kruger was also the first thing I thought of.

  92. There's a good side to overconfidence. I assume I'm brilliant, that I can do anything that interests me, and just occasionally I can. At job interviews I would genially tell my prospective employers that I was smarter than their other employees. I assume I'm brilliant and fabulous. Some people find me unbearable because of these delusions of grandeur. But the blessing is that I'm willing to try anything, never hobbled by a fear of failure. When I turn out to be incompetent I simply shrug and move on to something else (or occasionally persevere so that I get better). This is all tempered by an over-abundance of empathy. But I bless my overconfidence daily - life is much more interesting when everything seems possible.

  93. @Anne Stuart Ohlrogge In Vermont, anything is possible.

  94. @Anne Stuart Ohlrogge You misunderstand the effect. This confidence doesn't make the delusional person some great achiever, some cutting-edge risk taker. It makes them stumble into situations in which they have no competence, bollix it up and then place the blame elsewhere.

  95. The Kennedy family is certainly proof of this.

  96. "We may need to punish overconfident behavior more than we do." Duh?! Ya think?! And let's start by punishing the conman in the Oval Office. Our inability to punish the obviously criminal interloper or to deal with a completely illegitimate "election" influenced heavily by the Russians, arguably America's worst enemy, shows just how weak and incompetent our government really is. If we cannot punish this crooked conman, or at least remove him from office, then America is doomed.

  97. @NY Times Fan You're wrong about Trump. He may have money, but he doesn't come from a higher "social class." He comes from a grubbing criminal class.

  98. The same is true with universities. I have met mediocrities from MIT and Yale, and superstars from public universities. Part of it is that students at the former get teaching assistants while the real professors do high-priced research. At the latter the profs are in the classroom.

  99. Actually, not true.

  100. Upper class people are used to succeeding and being surrounded by people who are successful. They're used to seeing problems as manageable and solvable. Lower-class people are more likely to see those around them thwarted in various ways and less likely to have intellectual confidence modeled for them while growing up. So I'd guess it isn't so much a matter of arrogance as what people learn growing up.

  101. I call this the "confidence of class." It became a weapon in my marriage when my ex-husband would accuse me of being "working class." He used his status as an upper middle male together with a 6-foot frame to get away with all sorts of things that a 5-foot female cannot. Our grown children now call that "confidence of class" a case of "hot air."

  102. @Babs Your ex sounds like a real Richard. What a loser.

  103. This is just an illustration of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's been around for decades.

  104. @Gary But it's only been in the White House since January 2017

  105. Upper class folks are used to being surrounded by people who tell them they are great. Trump, Kushner and Ivanka are good examples of incompetent wealthy people who con others into believing they know what they are doing and they can solve all problems.

  106. @Jacquie a friend of mine who is a massage therapist, was call to the Trump golf course in New Jersey, late at night. She was to give Ivanka a massage. She was also told not to speak to her. When she as done, Ivanka just walked out, no tip, no thank you, no nothing. So, money has its privilege of not speaking to the underlings. I will never forget that and hence will never vote for her father and the other relative bigots.

  107. @gracie15 Money buys entitlement for those with no integrity.

  108. You mean like wealthy business people who think they know more than teachers in the trenches. I don't want to hear any advice on how to "fix the education system" unless that person has spent a minimum of a month in a real live classroom in a "failing" school.

  109. I am inclined to think this is largely "bunk"! The single most defining characteristic of "higher social class" has nothing to do with wealth, or social standing" - whatever that means! Though education in general is of course important, the single educational quality that matters most is speech - the proper grammar and usage skills along with a good vocabulary, will set a person apart instantly from those who lack such skills. My father worked in the U.S. Space program, and there were many brilliant engineers and scientists. I remember my mother noting, however, after meeting quite a few of them, commenting that she was astonished by the number of what she called "educated illiterates" engaged in what was certainly the crowning achievement of U.S. science. One thing that stood out was the fact that the ones whose backgrounds included the U.S.military academies - Annapolis and West Point, were more polished in their speaking skills - a requirement for graduation from those institutions. This is something that other engineering and technical schools should incorporate in their curriculum.

  110. Obviously, we have already encountered Bobby Newport. His name is Donald Trump. But overconfidence doesn't come from higher social class alone. Look at today's news: Kobach wants outrageous things such as a jet to fly him home each weekend. Could it be that his "superior" education has led him to believe that he is worth so much or that he can convince Trump that he is?

  111. when my middle class mother moved to Boston with my Ivy league father in 1960 one of the first things she surmised was, 'Oh- you don't have to be smart to go to Harvard!"

  112. The Jared Kushner Syndrome.

  113. Everybody immediately thinks of Trump. True enough. I find it fascinating that G.W. Bush doesn't come up. Another rich stumble-bum.

  114. Oh I think a good many of us have known for a very long time that so many of these Ivy league educated white males are not and never have been 'all that'. They've been as successful as they have been do to identity politics which they created that gave every opportunity to those meeting the twin identity of being white and male. No more.

  115. @EDC, Many are "all that" and more. Look back at obits, excellent War record, raised big families successfully, had a long career at xyz, corp., rose to VP or CFO, summered in Maine, etc. Salt of the earth.

  116. It’s not a real privilege to come from the upper class. You’re raised to believe in superficial values that have inconsequential meanings. You believe that if you say something, it is automatically true! You actually think that you do the work that you have other people do for you. Sometimes people dangle facets of the upper class to ‘tempt’ me to join in and all I can think is how incredibly boring it is. Eat food that other people cook for me, criticize or fawn over it. Spend hours on my appearance. Lying down for TWO HOURS so someone can put fake eyelashes on me. The list of tedious passive things to do that are utterly meaningless so I can yammer on and on with a wine glass in my hand pretending the wine has hints of cedar chips in it. Listening to other people yammering on and on, and mostly about the booze we are drinking. OMG! Just writing about it! How do they even bare it without being desperately and quietly drunk or on some kind of medication that induces a stupor you would despairingly need to endure that kind of existence. You have my sympathies.

  117. @Morgan "It’s not a real privilege to come from the upper class." Are you kidding me?! Kid, I've been poor and I've been slightly less poor and lemme tell ya, I really really wish I had had rich parents. Just sayin'.

  118. Let's not mince words. It is arrogance, plain and simple.

  119. This is extremely interesting and I’d love to see more research into these questions of confidence and class. I’m part of a family that would fit the ‘elite’ class definition and many of us work together in a family business context. I’m constantly struggling to deal with the extreme arrogance of some of my uncles and cousins who rarely take the time the educate themselves about the topic at hand but always have strong opinions about it and are quick to label everyone else as ‘stupid’. It’s exhausting. In my family, this trait generally tends to fall along gender lines. I will however point out that I believe this comes from conditioning. When I’m in a situation where people are totally unaware of my family, I have to prove myself like anyone else. When I’m in a board room where everyone knows who my family is, it seems I can do no wrong — all of my ideas are suddenly ‘brilliant’ and I find that others are practically begging me to take the reins of leadership. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, some in — but most completely out of — the family context. The extreme difference in how others treat me (and respond to my ideas and abilities) in these two different situations cannot possibly be overstated.

  120. @PieceDeResistance Leo Tolstoy knew this long ago. To make the foot soldier smart just make him a general! - war &peace!

  121. @PieceDeResistance I volunteer at a non-profit which is funded largely by a generous woman at the head of a large family foundation. She learned early on that people would judge her immediately by her family name so she uses an alternative family name. She also chose to work as a school teacher -- a job she enjoys -- so people who don't know her well have no idea how connected/ who she is. As for myself, I come from humble origins but have worked with wealthy people. I tend not to be impressed by wealth or status (character traits -generosity, diligence, intelligence , etc. - impress me) so I have been asked to advise them on projects since I don't let those factors influence my opinion.

  122. I can definitely say this is true. Through a strange turn of events, I once was able to spend extended time with a multi-millionaire Hollywood producer (that I can't name out of fear of retaliation). I tried to "talk film" with them and found that they didn't have the slightest knowledge whatsoever about the history of American cinema, directors, and so on. They had never seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" and had never heard of Roman Polanski. The only thing that mattered to them was their money, and it was clear that they believed their wealth was the most important indicator of their intelligence and abilities, i.e., since they have more money than they could spend in a lifetime, they must always be right. Their money allowed them to avoid criticism or being challenged by associates and underlings. He simply bought his position because it was what he wanted to do.

  123. @Vexations I knew a former Army Sergeant who had served in Turkey, where he’d become close friends with a Turkish counterpart. During a discussion where they differed, the Turk explained that he must be right and my friend wrong. Why? “You see, I’m a Turk and you’re not.”

  124. Oreo? No I said REO as in foreclosures.

  125. @Vexations Larry Ellison?

  126. A lot of life is about acting like you know what you’re doing. It is not surprising that along with privilege comes this lesson and the confidence to do it. You’re already more likely to be in a leadership position where people expect it. And if you get busted for being overconfident you have a lot more to fall back on so it’s less risky.

  127. @Di "A lot of life is about acting like you know what you’re doing." This is why "fake it 'til you make it" doesn't apply to people who write for a living, or whose work involves a lot of writing they can't foist off onto colleagues. What they do is out there for all to see.

  128. @Di One of the first things the military teaches an officer candidate is to always appear to know what he's doing, even if he is clueless. No one will follow someone into battle who appears indecisive or lacking in confidence. And if one makes a mistake, just correct it and act as if one had intended to do it that way all along. This is what makes a leader. We need to get over this "elite" and holding other people back nonsense that appears to be the daily bread and butter of academia and the NYTimes and other media. This is emotional intelligence and without it, no one moves up in the world, even if they actually are very bright. People with social status and wealth teach this to their children by osmosis and it serves them very well in life. A poor child can do the same.

  129. @Di 'Fake it until you make it' attitude may impress some people, but not the rest of reality. My garden, chickens, etc don't give me leeway for my optimistic attitude; either I know how to care for them correctly and they live or I screw up and they die.

  130. Yes, I've noticed this for quite some time in the workplace. People who come from money own a sense of security/confidence. They usually don't have to worry about where their next meal comes from if they lose their job. Most of us tread lightly because a paycheck matters. Single, head of household, mothers in particular - are very careful to avoid rocking the boat.

  131. @Anne Oide 100%. Work has always been like dating: employers treat you differently when you're valuable and don't really need them.

  132. @Anne Oide I have the exact same experience at my workplace. My cousin, who lives on the other side of the country and works a radically different job in a different sector, has the exact same experience as well.

  133. @Anne Oide This is the first of many levels of power exerted over a worker, who must live in perpetual insecurity & be rendered docile. (Capitalism 101)

  134. Having been on both sides of the economic divide at different times in life, I can vouch for the comment that in a lower class context the risks are higher if you are wrong when you make a mistake. At the lower levels of SES in the USA, folks have no economic margin for error. Further up in the pecking order, kids and adults are encouraged to take calculated risks and make mistakes, since resources are available for another try. While the working poor need near certainty of success any time they deploy capital, wealthier people can aim for lower probabilities, knowing not all losses are catastrophic. These economic limits or opportunities unfortunately invade thinking in many non-economic spheres of life.

  135. The risk takers have always been the workers. They risk life and limb and when we make a mistake it costs our everything. Throwing money into the casino isn’t risk taking, it’s gambling. Gamblers don’t deserve respect nor have they earned it even if they win.

  136. Man oh man. I deal with this every day, and lately it has been bad. We have two, "Fake it until you make it" engineers in my group. They break critical infrastructure on a daily basis, and competent engineers have to come in and fix their messes. What is astounding is that, the engineers that repair the damage report the source to management and management thinks it's just group squabble. I can't wait to retire and leave this masquerade behind.

  137. @me People of a certain class look out for one another - along with some instances where nepotism is clearly evident. I remember one time I was warned against hiring someone because if there were any issue with their performance I would be up against their much-higher-ranking and politically powerful father. I could easily have had that door hit me on the way out.

  138. @me just overconfidently communicate what's going on to the management and the players. I'm absolutely certain things will improve in no time!

  139. I am not sure if it is always high class people that get away with in-competence. However, related to predictions by "experts" on the future of "something" most of the time turns out to be wrong, especially in the area of markets. Prediction in other areas, e.g. politicians, social thinkers, and sport gurus, have been dead wrong most of the time. The paradox though is human growth marches forward, notwithstanding these "expert" predictions of "something or the other".

  140. The dark ages. It doesn’t always march forward. Sometimes a social virus appears that undermines growth and we get sick. Maybe we survive but only if we actively develop antibodies to what’s causing the virus.

  141. @R Nathan The future is hard to predict...because it is in the future. Drat!

  142. @R Nathan What is the evidence for your beliefs?

  143. The first time I went job hunting as an adolescent, I asked my mother what I should tell people when they asked about my experience. She said "lie". Even at that young age I was incredulous. But - most people do, and they are believed, if they present the right image - the reason businesses are run like crap and we manufacture inferior products.

  144. Once one encounters the more or less constant overconfidence of "preppy boys" it is not forgotten. Since most people who go to elite prep schools are from wealthy families, those attitudes would seem to verify this study. Some time after my own high school years were behind me, I walked with some family members across the campus of an exclusive prep school, one that had long been a "feeder school" for Yale, one of the revered names of the Ivy League, of course. First, the fact that we were on a campus instead of just a building or two gave it the air of something important, different. The athletic facilities were rich and numerous, including a vast swimming pool. This school in its physical being gave off an unmistakable message: you are welcomed into the world, you count for something, even now, and, lastly, the world belongs to you. Later in work situations I had occasion to work alongside preppy boys. There was no mistaking their sense of confidence, entitlement. They didn't ask, they took. They didn't wait, they assumed. They were ready to push others aside but you don't have to push if the doors seem to automatically open for you. Life has taught me that overconfidence can be harmful, even fatal. My tentativeness in many situations is probably telegraphed quickly and easily, but I have a bedrock self confidence based on experience, success and discovered abilities. I will never feel or act like the preppy boys and that probably is some disadvantage, some of the time.

  145. ditto for preppy girls!

  146. As an ex-public servant who had to compete in oral exams, I knew all about over confidence inferring competence. I had a colleague who did well on these exams, moved up the administrative ladder, but was totally incompetent. What he lacked in ability he made up in a self-assured image. Being fair, this isn't all that bad or unfair. Government agencies, businesses and the public feel assured when dealing with a confident official. The only problem lies later when they find out he or she hasn't done a thing and has failed to help. The ideal is competence and confidence. The only problem is being able to determine both.

  147. Wealth gives one a sense of confidence not of actual merit by ones actions but simply from the leverage of unearned authority inherited as part of the ownership transaction. Wealth itself promotes inherent sense of elitism by the nature of power that ownership yields to a person. It has nothing to do with capacity, merit or anything of value. It is nearly feudalistic.

  148. Interesting how a "Parks and Recreation" is inspiring scientific research. I feel like there is a Jorge Cham joke in there somewhere. If you know who Jorge Cham is, you'll already understand the joke. You're part of it. That said, I'd like to see a counter study. I suspect many people of relatively affluent means underestimate their own economic status. If the extremely rich are overconfident, my guess is the legitimately middle class are underconfident. The hypothesis is fairly easy to explain. Middle class people don't feel economically secure despite relatively high earnings. You tell a dual-income household making $100,000 a year they're doing better than 70 percent of America though? Their jaws usually hit the floor. A few more thousand a year and they're in the top quartile. Unbelievable, right? I think researchers should check that out.

  149. I’m reminded of a conversation I had many years ago with a coworker who was raised in an upper middle class home. I happened to refer to another coworker, who also came from a relatively privileged background, as being affluent. I was rebuked for using the term affluent and self righteously told that they were just upper middle class.

  150. There's a correlation between social class and overconfidence? Golly! Perhaps the next study undertaken by these researchers will undoubtedly seek to prove that water is wet.

  151. Whatever you need to tell yourself “Study”. “Science” Psychology is full of non-scientific non-repeatable “studies” but the media and small minds don’t understand science As long as it feels good to read, enjoy

  152. Here's a sad thing that happens over time. These overconfident people get the internships, the recommendations, the jobs, the mentoring....and eventually a lead in the business world so great that a former peer can nave catch up. And then they're in a position to hire competent people to cover for them.

  153. In my experience, there’s plenty of incompetence all around. I’ve met lots of lower class people with way too much confidence, the proverbial “too ignorant to understand how stupid they are.” I’ve always assumed it was their unwavering inability to consider their ignorance that kept them from moving out of the lower class.

  154. As Tevye said in “Fiddler on the Roof”, “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”

  155. Lately, I'm truly wondering why we humans keep up the bad idea of having presidents, dictators, leaders, etc. Millions of us accept this archaic idea of following the lead of increasingly bazaar individuals? Voting for one or the other doesn't much seem to correct this nonsense. Back to the drawing board? What to do when a worker bee notes the queen (king) is sick in the head. I grow weary of the facade and pageantry and the continuing ruination of the planet at large.

  156. @Marilyn said: Millions of us accept this archaic idea of following the lead of increasingly bazaar individuals? Hey, ease up on folk who work in bazaars, Marilyn. Singling them out for criticism is a little bizarre.

  157. The studies here omitted to take into consideration the link between confidence and authority. For there are people out there who equate higher social standing and it's attendant financial affluence with achievement by some authentic effort endowing these people with authoritative status. It's in reality an ill conceived presumption but nonetheless a common dynamic. Such people aren't identified as over confident but as those having a confidence that's a natural component of "high class."

  158. One just has to look at the majority of CEO's. Most have a superiority air and do not have a clue as to what the rank and file are doing, how they do it and most of all, how we are treated.They just wave, as they leave their offices for the Hamptons, upstate NY or wherever their privilege takes them, While the rest of us sit in "open concept" conditions. Yes, we need our paycheck which is why we take their abuse. The old saying at my office is "because they can".

  159. This problem is at the core of the Conservative party's mismanagement and Brexit chaos in the UK. Its ministers have all been through upper class British schools and learned to speak with complete confidence on any topic. While they did not learn actual skills, they persuaded voters based on their appearance and received pronunciation (that plummy BBC accent).

  160. @Mike O'Brien Thank you for that observation. I've noticed that, here in the US, not only advertisers, but many other organizations are hiring people with received pronunciation (the BBC accent) to be the voice on videos or presentations. I can only assume that they have discovered that a pitchman (or woman) with such an accent can generate more sales. He or she (but mostly he) perhaps sounds more persuasive.

  161. Those of us who have worked for decades in large corporations and observed the incompetence of some of the highest-paid executives don’t need any study to tell us this. We could have saved the researchers a lot of time and effort.

  162. Unless you are knowledgeable or have some experience in a particular subject, it is hard to catch someone out. As I get older and have more life experiences it is easier to "see through" someone. My tip - someone can talk big, but wait and see their experiences and if it matches up.

  163. Working in software I have found many people with impressive titles that end up knowing much less than interns and very junior developers paid a third of their salary. The most common reasons for this are nepotism and legacy hires. Legacy hires are people who were around when the company started and got promoted to a cushy senior position as a reward for sticking with the company through the tough times, regardless of their competence. Another reason that's been talked about though is hiring bias. Interviews in tech companies tend to look for a "culture fit" more than anything else. Many tech companies do not even really interview for software development skills. They interview for people who can solve whiteboard problems and algorithm puzzles, who can talk with corporate buzzwords. Even if the person is an anti-social nincompoop that never shows up to meetings and regularly disparages his colleagues in code reviews, he aced that white board interview so he's the senior developer. Every project he's worked on has failed, nearly every developer working under him has successful projects in their work history, yet he's always the team lead, never anybody else, because the CEO likes his moxie. I may or may not be referring to a real person I know.

  164. Oh, how I would love to see this study split by gender. While I’m sure there are overconfident women, in my experience even the most qualified women suffer from “imposter syndrome.” They often have to be pushed to advocate for themselves, to apply for high-ranking positions, to lead the room. I do not see the same patterns in many men. When hiring for positions I’ve seen men apply to roles with maybe half of the requisite experience needed and present outrageous salary demands, to boot. Anecdotal of course, but perhaps a future study could drill down further.

  165. @Jane S The article includes a link to the full text of the underlying study. At my own cursory glance through the full text, the study include roughly half or more women. If you have the time and interest, the opportunity to 'drill down' into gender differences already exists.

  166. "Overconfidence." In Joe-average, it's called cockiness. In brown people, attitude. And in kids, sass. Then we've got chutzpah, guts, audacity, insolence ……. The list goes on and on. I'm surprised that the rich people in this article got "overconfidence." It just doesn't sound uppity or obscure enough for bigshots. How about temerity?

  167. This is so true. We all know Bobby Newports from the White House down to the corner office of our companies. It is rare to find a senior manager who is as smart as he or she thinks they are. Just look at the discrepancy in CEO pay vs average workers.

  168. Once had a temporary office position with a rubber molding manufacturer. The chief engineer was an arrogant, disparaging guy with a reputation for accepting jobs beyond the capacity of the plant for timely completion.Time & again execs had to beg off his capacity to accept any project coming his way after consultation with operators. Yet his power undiminished, he seemed to have carte blanche with the president of the company. His inflated sense carried him a long ways & nobody had the guts to directly confront him. A senior lady in the office said, "He looks like the guy in the slicker on a tuna can." Dreaming big has it's downside.

  169. I need to speak up for a portion of the upper class. Yes I was born privileged, but I was raised with the values of hard work, be on time, be respectful and “do on to others as they would do unto you” So please do not assume all people of wealth are over confident jerks.

  170. @M I'd say an overconfident jerk would not bother to check the wording of a quote he has apparently misheard.

  171. The story of the British ruling class in a nutshell.

  172. Con man = Confidence man. Some people figured this psychology out long ago and have even used it to become CEO's of "billion dollar" worthless corporations and even president of the United States.

  173. I can relate this phenomenon to Prosperity Gospel preachers.

  174. This was studied and defined as he Dunning-Kruger effect.

  175. Totally makes sense to me - people of higher social class get told they're better than everyone else from the time they're babies. I found growing up that people tend to believe in Social Darwinism to an extreme, such that if you are wealthy you must be smarter and better in every way. When I was in high school and did well on a national math contest. one boy said to me "how can you be so smart, your father's a milkman!" - like that should matter. The idea that wealthy people and those of high social standing are just better is really really common. So it should be no surprise that such people are over-confident.

  176. Sometimes it's best to take a stoic approach to dealing with leaders, the Roman Empire went on and on even as it underwent several drastically different emperors from the Noble Marcus Aurelius to the downright tyrannical Nero to the absolutely insane Commodus.

  177. As a first generation college female who put myself through law school in the 80s ,and then entered the boys club that was (is?) the legal profession, I could write a book on 'overconfident' privileged white men, who were no brighter than me (many were way dumber) but who hailed from brand name schools, via legacy and/or money/, and whose 'overconfidence' was a fast lane to plum assignments, promotions, invites, raises, an always open door. Their mistakes were tolerated or forgiven, even expected. When I found out the less experienced, less qualified, less educated, less capable 'confident' white man who had my job before me was paid 12K more a year, I said - enough. (thank you leddie ledbetter) It got fixed. (but it had simply been handed to him) I am so sick of the whole rigged system. It is set up by white guys for white guys, and but they will say it is a meritocracy.

  178. This was studied and defined as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  179. No. Dunning-Kruger is an effect of intelligence on ones perception of their own intelligence...it has nothing to do with wealth. There are plenty of poor people who overestimate their own intelligence

  180. This is certainly not limited to people with elite upbringings. Eric Holder holds the record for unanimous 0-9 Supreme Court decisions.

  181. I believe those from higher social classes have the propensity to "fail forward." They are less risk averse (due to their life choices never having dire consequences), and therefore are more willing move forward with an idea just to see if it sticks, regardless if they have the competencies to make sound decisions. I also feel that those from higher social classes have the tendency to believe that their successes are due to their own brilliance and intellect, and less from their connections, wealth, and clout within various social circles. Whatever it's called-- overconfidence or other-- it's exasperating, and more than likely will never end as long as nepotism and other favors within elite circles continue to exist.

  182. Excellent observations! I too have seen the exact same forces at work.

  183. we used to call that "the peter principle." in essence, people rise to the level of their incompetence...it's a real thing!

  184. This serves to remind me that one of the personal characteristics of which I am exceedingly proud is my deep and abiding humility.

  185. “The researchers suggest that part of the answer involves what they call ‘overconfidence.’” Wow! How did these brilliant researchers manage to coin that term? How were they able to capture such an interesting and novel concept? These researchers might be as oblivious as their subjects.

  186. UVA as a proxy? Were there any middle or lower class students to choose from?

  187. there are two types of people in America: the right sort, and the help. it sounds so hoplessly old-fashioned, so George Herbert Walker Bush of Kennebunkport summering and a splash of coffee. but it's still there, even if you're not tapped for good old Skull and Bones.

  188. I worked for many years at a top international law firm that only hired the top few percent from the top Ivy League law schools. My experience validates this article. The people who came up the hard way seemed at least as competent as the white-shoe and silver-spoon genre. I was one of the former (community college and state university) and it galled the latter, especially because I was not a lawyer. Looking back, I was a pebble in the white shoes and it makes me laugh now. The cognitive dissonance was palpable every day. They tolerated me because I made them a lot of money. The COO once reminded me of my brown-shoe background and I was advised to remember my place.

  189. As many here imply, privilege begets privilege. I grew up in a small steeltown and attended a public high school with 3000 pupils, most of whom were the children of hard working blue collar folk. Went off to the Ivy League and was met with equal or less intellect and integrity on the part of many preppies and other privileged students who seemed to imagine they brought a superior game to the table. The lesson? that talent and character do not occur less among the poorer nor more among the wealthy. This was reinforced by hearing, in early 70's, from a teacher at an historically black college who shared with me essays written by a less privileged population. In response to the query, "What would you do with a million dollars?", they wrote, albeit unrealistically and ungrammatically, with a full range of urges from selfish (simply acquisitive) to touchingly altruistic (caring for world and family). I think perhaps the more privileged DO accurately count their naivety to be less, and they (and those around them) experience this as greater competence.

  190. Today money is the symbolic generator of any value. For many wealthy people (with some exceptions) culture is insignificant if it isn’t related to the dollar. They believe that if you are able to accumulate a fortune it doesn’t matter your competence, culture and, many times, integrity.

  191. Anyone who has worked in finance knows that 90% of the people in this industry are not that talented. But they think they are, so much so that they constantly go around proposing solutions to everything else--unions, immigrants, the tuition costs of higher education, how the writers of Game of Thrones messed up, etc. Even when their assets under management have dropped and their performance didn't perform well with benchmarks, they don't see it. My CEO's original resume advertised a 3.2 GPA for his major. Those are the people making and handling the billions in this country. The people who think they're geniuses for advertising a GPA of 3.2 in the classes that were necessary for their chosen field. Rich people just can't think they're anything other than great.

  192. We did encounter a Robby Newport, her name was Hillary Clinton. When asked what was her greatest accomplishment as SecState all she could offer was that she flew a lot of miles. When asked what she wanted to do as President, she had nothing to offer but to be the first woman in the job, and some platitudes that had been run through focus groups. When her campaign staff asked the theme of her campaign so they could develop speeches, talking points, schedule events, and all the other things a campaign staff has to do, she left them hanging for weeks, and never did give them an answer.

  193. The last thing the meritocracy-worshiping ruling class has ever wanted is true meritocracy, aka, if not a classless society, one with far less inequality of all kinds than ours. If such a thing were ever to come about, the ruling class knows that the jig will be up. No inherited wealth, no inherited power, no inherited advantages? You have to earn respect and all through your own actions? Uh oh! If you're a libertarian, meritocratic boot-strapper, you can't have that. I mean, how are they going to bribe their kids' way into USC (of all places; no offense!)?

  194. The thesis of your article is perfectly illustrated in the “Times” piece on Tilda Swinton’s foray into curating a photography exhibit. Truly lame.

  195. Utter lack of compassion and congenital indifference helps.

  196. Hey, we already have our Bobby Newport. He's called Donald Trump.

  197. Hmmm . . . Duped by an overconfident incompetent wealthy person. Wonder what country that was?

  198. There is nothing ' high class' about Donald Trump. Being born to 295 streams of income inherited from your New York City real estate baron father is like winning the socioeconomic genetic lottery. Trump is still an ignorant, immature, immoral, incompetent, inexperienced, intemperate and insecure man by nature and nurture. Donald Trump is no Queen Elizabeth II.

  199. one thing our President can say he has that had nothing much to do with his family's wealth: he is tall. not much of an accomplishment, I know, and requiring not much effort, but important nevertheless.

  200. Erich Fromm says it all in "To Be or To Have": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZapTBHtnc Strip the overconfident entitled class of its assets ("to haves") and they lose their identity. But cultivating an identity based on true integrity will always survive & thrive.

  201. Please stop using the word “elite”. It reeks of snobbery, yet it is consistently used by media of many stripes in imprecise ways that sometimes mean rich, sometimes educated, sometimes born into upper middle class, sometimes talented, etc. Find more precise words and use them, please. This goes for all of the NYT, and all of US media.

  202. What about fake high class people named Trump and Kushner? Are they not the most incompetent of all?

  203. And if you’re good looking too, you can get away with even more incompetence.

  204. tall is even more important, as studies confirm.

  205. Am I the only one who thought of The Monty Python when I read the title of this article? The Monty Python had a sketch about this, on TV, back in the 1970's. Search for "Monty Python Upper Class" and you are likely to find videos. I don't want to type what follows the words "Upper Class" since it is an insult.

  206. Perhaps this works on a certain level, but factor in gender and 'fake it til you make it' is probably a lot more effective if you're male.

  207. I find that attractiveness has more of an effect on this "perception" than apparent class. I think the problem this article indicates is that people are somehow not learning not to judge a book by its cover and to use reason in all things. If you ask me this is intentional in our education system to create a real intellectually deficient lower class of people. That is to say they are educated to be dumber than their actual ability to reason if they knew how, would let them be.

  208. I am disappointed the article does not explore sex differences in how people project themselves and how they are perceived. I would also like to see an article on the reverse issue: when competent, humble people are punished for having attributes of the "elite" (especially with the current focus on diversity).

  209. "Dr. Kennedy said she had been encouraged to find that if you show people actual facts about a person, the elevated status that comes with overconfidence often fades away." Ahh ... to be living in an "actual facts" based world again. Those were the good old days. Looking at our current administration, that feels like a quaint suggestion.

  210. This article is right on. We see it everyday, CEO's who only have there positions because they come from the elite families, these white boys are all connected .They don't need to know anything but how to run the business into the ground. Boeing, smart boys knew the software wasn't working correctly, dint brother to address it till the planes fall out of the skies then blame the pilots. Then we have the rich parents buying there academically challenged children into elite schools, now we have so many elites, the country will be run into the ground. Farmers struggling because of tariffs don't worry about it, the genius president will give you a bail out that hardly covers anything. That bail out wont be able to give you back your markets, because its ok, the smart people fake everything till it is truly broken.