1st Edition

Self-Insight Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself

By David Dunning Copyright 2005
    240 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Psychology Press

    244 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Psychology Press

    244 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Psychology Press

    People base thousands of choices across a lifetime on the views they hold of their skill and moral character, yet a growing body of research in psychology shows that such self-views are often misguided or misinformed. Anyone who has dealt with others in the classroom, in the workplace, in the medical office, or on the therapist’s couch has probably experienced people whose opinions of themselves depart from the objectively possible.

    This book outlines some of the common errors that people make when they evaluate themselves. It also describes the many psychological barriers - some that people build by their own hand - that prevent individuals from achieving self-insight about their ability and character.

    The first section of the book focuses on mistaken views of competence, and explores why people often remain blissfully unaware of their incompetence and personality flaws. The second section focuses on faulty views of character, and explores why people tend to perceive they are more unique and special than they really are, why people tend to possess inflated opinions of their moral fiber that are not matched by their deeds, and why people fail to anticipate the impact that emotions have on their choices and actions.

    The book will be of great interest to students and researchers in social, personality, and cognitive psychology, but, through the accessibility of its writing style, it will also appeal to those outside of academic psychology with an interest in the psychological processes that lead to our self-insight.

    Thales’s Lament: On the Vagaries of Self-Assessment. Ignorance as Bliss. Clues for Competence. The Dearest Teacher. False Uniqueness. In a Word. The Merest Decency. Beyond One’s Self. Reflections on Self-Reflection.


    Dunning, David

    ‘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