Self-assessment biases

Knowledge is arguably the most important production factor of any organization. Therefore, making knowledge assessments is vital for short and long-term management decisions. Most organizations and supporting tools use different forms of self-assessment to do this.
There are a few drawbacks to self-assessment of knowledge. Self-assessment is a complex matter which is not the most accurate process. Scientific literature shows many reasons for this, let me highlight three of them:

  • Competence
  • Self-perception
  • Social comparison
    Competent people tend to underestimate their knowledge level. Incompetent people tend to overestimate their knowledge (Dunning-Kruger effect). If you like to read a funny story about that, check out the bank robber who thought he was invisible.
    Self-perception leads to an overestimation of knowledge assessments. In general, people have a positive image of themselves, and that reflects in their knowledge assessments as well. Social comparison can lead both ways. Comparing yourself upward leads to low knowledge assessments, and downward comparison might lead to overestimation. If you compare your skills to the best in the world, it’s likely you will end up being at an intermediate level at best. But if you are the best in your organization it is justified to give yourself the ‘expert’ level anyway. Scoping of the knowledge inventory and the meaning of the different knowledge levels can counter this bias. Additionally, social endorsements from your colleagues can add a more objective angle to
    the assessment.

Sign up for our newsletter