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Confidence doesn't lead to better outcomes

BurnedOut

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If you don't believe me then maybe you shall believe in what science has to say about this. The effect is very well documented in the mental heuristic of Halo Effect wherein there is an erroneous attribution of a positive scheme bestowed upon someone who comes off as reassuring. Here, I specifically refer not to self-assured people who are fine with unpredictable phenomenon but people who tend to believe that their chances of success are higher if they follow a particular procedure.

I am ambivalent about its importance as I believe that confidence is usually useless and it is very charming to witness it but it leads to a culture of overconfidence (Americans know better than Asians) wherein the slightest perception of someone's lack of confidence leads to their ostracism or bullying or encourages their domination. I suppose this in social situations, this is OK because social situations themselves do not warrant a 'performance based' setting and hence I am unable to say if a culture of confidence is good or bad exclusively in social settings.

There are some things that are good about confidence that it is a good motivator and leads people to do things. However, this is only valid in situations where procedures are fairly scientific or lead to predictable outcomes, for example, an athlete's confidence will keep growing as she practises more. Therefore, this is valid because there is a valid parameter that is (usually) causationally related to certain sequences of actions. The real problem begins when confidence is begun to be abused in real-life situations' predictions. The book The Halo Effect exposes this folly very well. 'Confident' people start behaving like demigods by believing that the power of their convictions can lead to monumental changes in the physics and metaphysics of the universe.

The feeling is shared by a wide variety of adequately spiritually mature enough to understand that 'the game of confidence' is usually a 'game of con'. Not just that, I have seen this mentality being pretty famous among the top-brass who are the helm of affairs. Bureaucrats, doctors, tax consultants, chartered accountants, managers, salespersons seem to share this bullshit trait for god-knows-what reason. I think the broken weather forecasting of India shares the same chutzpah whose predictions are many times off the mark and despite the heaps of criticism about the lack of proper weather forecasting techniques and apparatus, the news channels are evermore confident about the wrong forecast. I know a civil servant who is similarly distressed at the goverment's confidence about its modus operandi whilst sifting through tons of data indicating that the economy and the country is largely in shambles during the lockdown with extremely negative consequences for the impoverished who are dying and starving and fading out in the process. My American counterparts who have witnessed the dotcom boom and the subsequent financial crisis of 2007-2008 understand what I am talking about.

The stock market bubbles and their crashing are the archetypes of toxic human confidence where the formula of confidence = ability to influence events wrecks havocs at a gargantuan scale. Other examples include the sad degeneration of drug users who turn addicts and tobacco consumers getting afflicted by cancers and cheaters getting caught in the process and church fathers busted for their sexual incontinence. As far as I can understand, confidence leads to early demise and whoever thinks so otherwise is a fool and an idiot of massive proportions.

Success stories are nothing but random strokes of luck people obtained in their lives. There is no success story on this planet which can be deconstructed into a series of steps that can be followed faithfully in order to reproduce a similar result. If there is anything that is true, that is pure hard work and the modest results it can provide which may not be too flattering in contrast to the bombastic success cults that rich people run in their lives.

Useless confidence regularly cost people their money and lives and social affairs. It is turning into a confidence pandemic in this era because of the widescale availability of the internet which comes along with its information pollution. This is especially relevant in the context of the pandemic because of the reluctance of governments worldwide regarding handling the pandemic properly along with the overheating of stock market with traders' newfound interest in cryptocurrency which is generating extreme amounts of hype and overconfidence among already financially fucked populace.

On an additional note, I personally find 'confident' people rather idiotic who stumble quite easily when the basis of their confidence is questioned. Almost no 'confident' person I have met likes their basis of confidence to be questioned. Very rarely, such people are able to stand their grounds if only they are talking about a fact. Somebody I know has a surprisingly high tolerance for unpredictability seem to be naturally confident than a conventional confident fellow because the acceptance of unpredictability drives my rather curious friend to be more rigorous and rational in approach towards things in order to cover more ground and contingencies. I feel that too much confidence and suave in social interactions is equal to conning someone and not being honest. While some deception is acceptable, outright confidence-conning someone never yields good results. When Plato talked about the Myth of Metals in The Republic, I found it to be quite valid in its conception.
 

Cognisant

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We live in a world where people's value is often determined by the perceptions of others, I recall hearing a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger running a bricklaying business when he moved to America, employing fellow bodybuilders. At first his prices were below the going rate, thinking that'll get him into the market and from there he can build his business through a reputation for fast high quality work. But he was struggling to get customers until someone, one of his customers I think, told him that Americans are wary of anything that's too cheap and when having a house built (something the average person may do only once in their life) they'd rather pay more than risk not having it done properly.

So he charged above the going rate and suddenly his bricklaying business was the most sought after one in his state, people saw the big muscular bodybuilders and the high prices and just assumed the speed and quality of the service must be incredible.
 

Puffy

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I think it's important to distinguish between different types of confidence, healthy and unhealthy, which I'm unsure if the scientific paper you're referring to factors or not. My guess would be that these are based in someone's level of security or insecurity in themselves.

People with overweening self-confidence tend to actually be insecure in my opinion, and the overweening self-confidence is a mask to disguise or compensate for the insecurity. So I think you're right in saying that it is like a form of deception. It is, but whether the over-weening self-confidence is malicious or not, it's there to disguise their own vulnerability which they don't want to acknowledge in themselves and certainly don't want others to see.

Likewise, you say that confident people don't like to be questioned. But I'd say it's only people who feel insecure in themselves who don't like to be questioned as they are truly insecure about their choice and so need others to validate them and their choices. When questioned, they're likely to get upset and double-down on it as to admit they're wrong would be to show their insecurity and vulnerability. Like you say, they're more likely to attribute all their success to themselves and give less credit to good luck or the efforts and support of many other people.

The secure, confident person is less likely to need others to approve of or validate them in the same way as their trust in themselves is stable and sufficient. They're more likely to be able to accept criticism or admit they're wrong as it isn't as big a blow to the ego in the same way that it is for an insecure person.

I make this distinction as I think confidence is a really fundamental trait to have in a healthy psyche and a healthy society. It's quite difficult to function or contribute to society without it. Like, how can you perform any job or role without your confidence in your ability to do it (or learn how to do it)? How can you overcome any challenge in life without having confidence in yourself to be able to overcome it? In emergency situations, how can people rely upon someone like a surgeon to perform a necessary surgery without them having confidence in their ability to perform it? If you didn't have confidence in these circumstances then these circumstances would just fill someone with anxiety or stress (fear), which is another expression of insecurity stemming from being unconfident. In turn the community has to support you more and is able to rely upon you less, so lacking confidence ends up benefiting no one and leads to worse outcomes.

Like you said, I think healthy confidence stems from hard work and trying different experiences and as a result of it acquiring trust in yourself to effectively manage different situations. It involves trying and accepting and learning from failure as it arises (which an insecure or unconfident person will find hard to cope with.) It stems from confronting appropriate challenges and as a result slowly gaining trust and confidence in yourself to take on bigger, future challenges. It isn't overweening as it's proportionate to reality and is earned and as a result exists within reasonable boundaries of self-worth and knowing your own limitations. And hopefully, a good dose of humility.

So, yes, I agree that unhealthy overweening self-confidence leads to bad outcomes as it's not based in reality and is based in insecurity. But being unconfident also leads to bad outcomes. Healthy confidence leads to better outcomes.
 

The Gopher

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Yeah I agree with Puffy, the difference between real confidence and insecure fake confidence is huge. Some people actually are perfectly fine being questioned because if they were really confident they are sure of themselves regardless.

For people who aren't confidence or don't project confidence it can feel like nobody can be confident as it must be faking, but when you truly become confident in something then nothing else matters. That doesn't mean you'll be confident in everything.
 

sushi

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confidence and past experience does lead to better outcomes,

there is such notion as confidence reinforcement

Have you tried testing your hypothesis right or wrong?

What you are referring to could be overoptimism.

Maybe defeatism and failiure experiences won't effect future outcomes if what you say holds true?
 

ZenRaiden

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Easy to build confidence. Just do the things you are best at.
However if you are suddenly confident in something new thats false confidence.
 
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