Know-it-alls’ are often less informed about the world than their peers, scientists confirm

Annoying ‘know-it-alls’ are much less informed about the world around them than others, according to scientists.

By definition, ‘know-it-all’ is a person who thinks that they know much more than other people. The term represents those individuals who believe they are more aware than the people around them and never miss a chance to prove that. Whether they discuss politics, climate change, religion, or relationships, they are convinced they are always right.

However, scientists have revealed that people who consider themselves impeccable in terms of expressing opinions are usually overestimating their knowledge. The reason for their behavior is quite simple. Instead of improving their abilities and experience by being open to new ideas, they stick to information that backs up their own beliefs. This way, they miss out on valuable opportunities to expand their horizons, which leads to them being less educated than their peers.

‘Know-it-alls’ and the ‘belief superiority’ – Being convinced that your views are superior to those of others. 

A team of experts from the University of Michigan found that ‘know-it-alls’ claim their personal beliefs are more accurate than others even after being told they didn’t know as much as they thought. In other words, they feel superior in terms of intelligence, even when all the facts are defying that.

When it comes to supporting their statements with actual information, such people tend to search for new details that confirm their sense of superiority. Meanwhile, they ignore anything that challenges their beliefs.

The researchers conducted several separate studies. Throughout the first one, they analyzed the behavior of people who declared ‘belief superiority’ about politics. They first asked the participants how much they thought they knew about the topic. Afterward, the respondents were given quizzes which tested their actual awareness of the subject.

According to the examiners, people who have ‘belief superiority’ are consistently overestimating their own knowledge.

Michael Hall, the lead author of the study, stated:

“Whereas more humble participants sometimes even underestimated their knowledge, the belief superior tended to think they knew a lot more than they actually did.”

During the second study, the researchers gave the participants a selection of news articles about the same political issues they previously discussed. Then, they asked them to choose which pieces they would like to read. Of course, there was a little catch. While half of the articles supported the respondents’ beliefs, the other half opposed them.

The research proved that belief-superior individuals are more likely to choose the information that backs up their own opinions. Moreover, it confirmed that while some people believe they are always right, everyone enjoys having the views they consider important validated.

Kaitlin Raimi, University of Michigan assistant professor of public policy and co-author of the study, concluded:

“Having your beliefs validated feels good, whereas having your beliefs challenged creates discomfort, and this discomfort generally increases when your beliefs are strongly held and important to you.”

Are there any ‘know-it-alls’ in your circle? Do you agree with the researchers’ conclusions on the topic? Let us know in the comment section! 

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