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Are Two-Thirds of Us Really “Smarter than Average”?

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Two Pennsylvania psychologists conducted a ground-breaking survey that asked 3,000 respondents to agree or disagree with a simple statement: “I am more intelligent that the average person.”

Amazingly, 65 percent agreed, and only 23 percent disagreed—a statistical impossibility, since just as many people must count as below average as above average. Not surprisingly, 71 percent of college grads considered themselves smarter than average, but so did a solid majority of those who never spent a day at college. So many Americans hold inflated ideas of their own relative smarts that many folks inevitably feel like they’ve somehow gotten the raw end of the deal—asking themselves, “If I’m so smart, how come I’m not rich?” The survey also points to the downside of over confidence: “unjustified risk-taking and bad investing decisions, and while arrogance may impress at first, it gets old quickly.”

An exaggerated sense of our own abilities can only foster exaggerated resentment and disappointment.

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