Survey Finds Most Americans Think That They Have Above Average Intelligence

Don't scoff: you're not invulnerable to self-delusion. PR Image Factory/Shutterstock

Robin Andrews 31 Jul 2018, 14:55

People tend to rate themselves more highly in a wide range of subjects, though, from driving to morality to videogames and cooking. Normally, those who are the least competent rate themselves very highly.

This study’s findings certainly has overtones of the DKE. Using both a large telephone survey and a smaller online survey, the team found that 20 percent said that they “strongly agreed” with the aforementioned statement; 45 percent said they “mostly agree”.

Younger Americans were more likely to agree with the statement than older Americans. Ethnicity made no significant difference.

The team, composed of researchers from the Geisinger Health System and the University of Illinois, point out that their results are open to some degree of interpretation. “Our results do not explain why 65% of Americans agree that they are more intelligent than average,” they stress.

They do, however, put forward several hypotheses, including the notion that “average person” is possibly determined by several means, depending on who they encounter regularly or what they perceive the general public to be like based on the media’s portrayal.

It’s also possible that the people’s definitions of intelligence are different from person to person. That’s fair enough; as we explain here, IQ is just one, fairly flawed measure of cognitive abilities. With that in mind, one could see how a majority of respondents correctly assume that they are smarter in one particular aspect compared to the general population.

Despite these uncertainties and the limitations of the study, the authors end on a more definitive note: “Despite these limitations, we conclude that Americans’ self-flattering beliefs about intelligence are alive and well several decades after their discovery was first reported.”

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