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Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Essays in Social Psychology) Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1841690742 ISBN-10: 1841690740

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Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Essays in Social Psychology) + The Self in Social Judgment (Studies in Self and Identity)
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Product Details

  • Series: Essays in Social Psychology
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Psychology Press (January 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841690740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841690742
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

‘This is a superbly written volume illuminating a fundamentally significant human shortcoming, a curious inability to “know oneself” or gain true insights into the inner workings of one’s mind. Provocative, entertaining, and compelling, this work represents experimental social psychology at its finest.’ - Arie W. Kruglanski, University of Maryland

‘People are often their own worst enemies. Nothing stands in the way of achieving our goals as much as our lack of insight into our own flaws, weaknesses, and shortcomings. This book is a must-read for people who aspire to achieve the self-knowledge that is essential to accomplishing their most cherished goals, or want to understand why others seem so blinded to their shortcomings. Dunning is an outstanding scientist and an entertaining writer. His explorations into failures of self-knowledge are a fascinating read.’ - Jennifer Crocker, University of Michigan


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Customer Reviews

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Howard Aldrich on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Dunning's book. He argues that most of us lack insight into our own strengths & weaknesses because the internal forces promoting overconfidence overwhelm any potentially negative feedback from our environment. Using an ingenious set of experiments designed with collaborators, plus evidence from the work of others, Dunning reviews what we know about the psychological factors impeding self-assessment. First, if we are unable to competently produce something, we are unlikely to be good judges of what we have produced. Thus, incompetent people remain blissfully ignorant of their incompetence. Second, we judge ourselves based on our ability to come up with 'reasons' for our judgments, as well as the speed with which we reach judgments. Third, when feedback is available, it often fails to inform our judgment because it arrives irregularly, provokes ambiguous interpretations, is biased toward positive reports, and so forth. Humans rely on some simple heuristics that promote superstituous learning and reinforce their positive images of themselves. Fourth, we assume we are unique and thus even though we are often fairly accurate at predicting the behavior of others, we view ourselves as superior to the 'average' person.

Dunning makes these points and many more with a sly wit and often tongue-in-check observations that kept me interested even when he told me more than I wanted to know about some of the experiments. I winced occasionally when I recognized some of my own self-serving behaviors that block accurate self-assessments.

His last chapter, "reflections on self-reflection," draws his themes to a sensible conclusion and addresses the policy implications of his work. Is self-judgment always inaccurate? Is it really bad to hold erroneous self-assessments? Under what conditions is over-optimism dangerous? He ends with some suggestions to those of us brave enough to seek greater self-awareness, in spite of what we'll learn.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Darin Merrill on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Seconding the reviews already posted, this book is an absolute affirmation of years of anecdotal evidence. The research is good, but the conclusions are absolutely stunning. Anyone reading this will swear it is a biography of some boss he or she has had, or perhaps a coworker. The incompetent person reading this will be unwilling to introspectively determine that he or she is the incompetent [...] that everyone suffers, so the book's one drawback is that the target audience has a segment that will be utterly oblivious to its implications. I wish this were required reading in every university administration, where this kind of self-deluding incompetence runs wild and breeds like rabbits--very sycophantic and myopic rabbits at that.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jesus on July 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This has been a very useful book, specially since I'm currently studying psychology.

I truly recommend it to anyone in this field of study
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Markku Ojanen on March 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I admire greatly the research program of professor Dunning. The experiments described in the book are often ingenious and creative. I am presently writing a book about human irrationality and found a lot of material to use. The first impression the book gives is rather pessimistic, perhaps too pessimistic. Untill now I had thought that one's own personality ratings correspond quite well with other people's ratings. To some degree this is true about the results of prof. Dunning, but his main point is that we think too much of oneselves. This can be seen most clearly in moral area. We are much more moral than those "other people". In the early 80's I did an attitude study which showed that we are fairly positive toward mentally ill people, but those others - who they are? - are very prejudiced and want to keep these horrible people in mental institutions. Prof Dunning ponders similar questions. Which opinion is the right one? It seems that at least in some areas the opinion we hold about ohter people is nearer to truth than the one we have of ourselves. The experiments that show this bias are really great. What comes to mental patients, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. We are not ao good than we think but not as bad as we think those other people are.

This is a good book in many ways, clearly written and coherent. What I expected was a more thorough discussion of human rationality/irrationality. However, Dunning makes in the ennd some very good points obout positiveness of not knowing ourself as it really is. This is my point, too. A fully rational, realistic human being would be inhuman. We are perfectly capable of making bad deeds rationally. Perhaps love is always irrational. The final verdict about knowing thyself perhaps eludes us.
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