Men thought they could land a plane after watching short YouTube clips 3 months ago

Men thought they could land a plane after watching short YouTube clips

Never underestimate completely unfounded male confidence

According to a recent psychological study, most men believed they could fly and land a plane after having done nothing more than watch a few short YouTube clips.

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The research carried out by the University of Waikato in New Zealand found that men were much more confident they could perform a highly skilled task they have never attempted before and had no prior knowledge, as opposed to women.

The study included 780 men and women, 582 of which were shown a three-minute and 44-second clip of a pilot making a sudden landing on YouTube. Both groups were asked if they could land a plane without dying or fly similar to a trained pilot.

The study found that those who had watched the clip were up to 30 per cent more confident in their ability to land a plane without dying than those who hadn't. But, even those who did not watch it,  had an average confidence score of 29 per cent.

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Credit: Royal Society of Open Science - Fig. 1. Confidence they could land a plane 'without dying'

Ultimately, the research paid credence to the assumption that overconfidence is associated with gender, hypothesising that "men tend to be more overconfident in their knowledge and abilities than women—even in a high-stakes environment", especially when performing what they believe to be masculine tasks.

In contrast, it was put forward that "women do not show the same overconfidence for feminine-gender-typed tasks" and the evidence seemed to suggest as much.

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Moreover, many participants were asked how confident they'd be flying and landing an aircraft as well as a pilot, both before and after the clip, and it was found that their confidence often went up by around 38 per cent after seeing the footage.

Fig. 2 - Confidence they could fly a plane as well as a pilot

Speaking to the New Scientist, one of the lead authors of the study, Maryanne Gary, said that people in general “tend to inflate their confidence about certain things” in what she dubs “rapid illusion” and that this phenomenon, based on a limited amount of information, is seen in a "disturbing proportion of ordinary people”.

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The concept itself has been observed before in what experts call the Dunning-Kruger effect, which essentially describes how people with limited knowledge or competence in an intellectual or social domain grossly overestimate their aptitude in that domain, especially when compared to their peers.

Lastly, whilst almost everyone admitted that manning and landing an aircraft requires a great amount of expertise and training, most seemed to believe that if push came to shove, they could perform a number of highly-skilled tasks in an emergency.

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