Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Think you're a comic genius? Maybe you're just overconfident

Date:
July 28, 2012
Source:
Florida State University
Summary:
Social norms make us averse to providing negative feedback, says a psychology professor whose latest laboratory research recreated everyday interactions in which people might feel pressured to withhold negative information.

Knock, knock! Who's there? Cows go. Cows go who? No, cows go moo!

OK, OK. So it's not a side-slapper -- especially if the teller has zero sense of comic timing. But most likely the person sharing the joke over the water cooler thinks he or she is pretty funny.

No matter how badly the joke is told, it will sometimes elicit a few polite laughs.

Why?

Because social norms make us averse to providing negative feedback, says Joyce Ehrlinger, a Florida State University assistant professor of psychology whose latest laboratory research recreated everyday interactions in which people might feel pressured to withhold negative information.

Ehrlinger's findings, which will be presented at the American Psychological Association's 120th convention in Orlando, Fla., in August, are described in her recent paper "Polite But Not Honest: How an Absence of Negative Social Feedback Contributes to Overconfidence."

Ehrlinger maintains that because society trains us not to hurt others' feelings, we rarely hear the truth about ourselves -- even when it's well deserved. And that can be a problem for overly self-confident people who carry around inaccurate, overly positive perceptions of how others view them.

Three studies conducted by Ehrlinger and two Florida State graduate students -- Adam J. Fay and Joanna Goplen -- were modeled after awkward social situations in which one person argues for a political position that others find reprehensible. The researchers suspected that such moments usually lead to awkward silence more often than impassioned debate.

To test this, they brought together unacquainted participants with opposing views on a controversial issue. They then asked one participant to persuade the other of his or her view on the issue. Typically the targets responded by smiling or vaguely agreeing, which most likely reduced the potential for conflict, but left the political persuaders with inaccurate, overconfident perceptions of their debating skills.

In a second study, participants displayed overconfidence in their ability to be funny because they failed to recognize how often others laughed at jokes that weren't funny just to be polite.

So exactly what's so wrong with letting others think they're comic geniuses? Who said jokes about bears going into bars were so bad?

Ehrlinger explains it this way: "There's definitely no harm in some types of overconfidence, and I am not suggesting that we should stop living in a polite society. The worst that might come from someone believing that they are funnier than, in reality, they are is a bit of embarrassment or wasted effort auditioning for 'America's Got Talent.'"

That said, she argues it's important to note when politeness might come at a cost. There are many times when overconfidence carries serious consequences.

"Overconfident doctors and lawyers might offer their patients or clients poor advice," she said. "There are ways in which overconfidence is dangerous, and it might be important to set aside politeness in the service of helping people avoid the perils of overconfidence."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida State University. "Think you're a comic genius? Maybe you're just overconfident." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120728150832.htm>.
Florida State University. (2012, July 28). Think you're a comic genius? Maybe you're just overconfident. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120728150832.htm
Florida State University. "Think you're a comic genius? Maybe you're just overconfident." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120728150832.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins