Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Darren O'Malley 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

Hi, my name is Darren O’Malley. I completed my BSc [Hons] of Applied Psychology (Tech Path) in 2023. The tech path has fostered my interest in accessibility and user-centered design method and I intend on pursuing a career in UX Design. I aim to take the next year to focus on developing my skills and gaining more experience in this field. My goal is to one day be able to facilitate a healthy work/life balance that affords the time for other activities such as volunteering and accessibility research.

Project Description

My major research project investigated the intersection of gender identity, faith in intuition and the susceptibility to the Dunning-Kruger Effect (DKE). The DKE posits that an individual with limited knowledge or skill in a field lacks the metacognitive ability to realise their own shortcomings. Essentially, low performers are more prone to overestimation of their abilities when compared to average or high performing individuals. An online survey was distributed and 123 participants completed the cognitive reflection test to assess their intuitive and analytical thinking. Subsequently, participants self-estimated their own score on the test and then completed the faith in intuition (FI) scale. Participants were placed into groups based on gender identity and level of faith intuition against their score misestimation.

Project Objectives

My project was titled ‘The Dunning-Kruger Effect: The Influence of Gender and Intuition Score Estimation’. The objective of this study was to investigate if there would be a difference between men and other genders when it came to overconfidence on the CRT, faith in intuition levels and exhibition of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The main objective was to address the gap in literature between gender and the DKE. Despite the consistent findings in overconfidence research and gender, recent studies have not considered it a variable itself. A 2x3 factorial, between groups, cross sectional design was implemented in this study. The independent variables being observed were the participants gender identity, and level of faith in intuition (FI), with the dependent variable being the misestimation of scores (calculated by subtracting the participants, self-estimated score by their actual score).

Participants were excluded if any survey information was incomplete, or if they chose to opt-out via the final withdrawal of consent option at the end of the survey. Two participants were excluded from the sample as they failed to tick the final consent box and seven participants in the non-binary/other group were excluded as there were insufficient numbers compared to the other two groups. Data of the 123 participants was analysed to determine if there are differences on level of misestimation of scores based on gender and faith in intuition.

Project Outcomes

The present study showed support for the DKE with lower scoring participants overestimating their scores, on average, compared to higher scoring participants. Though there was no significant interaction between FI and gender and no significant result for the main effect of FI, there was a significant result for the main effect of gender. Men overestimated their scores more often than women, who seemed to be more conservative with their self-estimations.

Expanding on the above, it might be concluded that men are more susceptible to the DKE whereas women are more prone to conservative estimations of their abilities. This might be a potential factor in the discrepancy between women and men in both wage expectations and career trajectories. The DKE could also be facilitated and exacerbated by systemic paradigms that impose negative perceptions on more assertive or risk taking women while simultaneously rewarding men for the same traits. Though more research is needed, the present study adds to the growing literature on overconfidence and gender and the limited research on gender as a potential influencing factor in the manifestation of the DKE.