In Press

Dunning, D.  False moral superiority(in press). In A. Miller (Ed.), Social psychology of good and evil (2nd ed.)New York:  Guilford.

Fetchenhauer, D., Dunning, D., & Schlösser, T. (in press).  The mystery of trust: Trusting too much while trusting too little at the same time.  In P. Van Lange, B. Rockenbach, & T. Yamagishi (Eds.) Trust in social dilemmas.  Oxford, UK:  Oxford University Press.

Schlösser, T., Mensching, O., Dunning, D., & Fetchenhauer, D. (in press). Trust and rationality:  Shifting normative analyses in risks involving other people versus nature. Social Cognition.

Dunning, D. (In Press). We are all confident idiots. Pacific Standard 7(6), 46-54.Abstract

Dunning, D. (In Press). Motivational theories. In B. Gawronski & G. Bodenhausen (Eds.), Theory and explanation in social psychology (pp. 108-131). New York: Guilford.

Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (In Press). Wishful Seeing: Motivational Influences on Visual Perception of the Physical Environment. In E. Balcetis & G. D. Lassiter (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Visual Perception. New York: Psychology Press.



Atir, S., Rosenzweig, E., & Dunning, D. (2015).  When knowledge knows no bounds:  Self-perceived expertise predicts claims of impossible knowledge. Psychological Science, 26, 1295-1303.

Critcher, C.R. & Dunning, D.  (2015). Self-affirmations provide a broader perspective so threats do not loom as large. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 3-18. Abstract

We present an “affirmation as perspective” model of how self-affirmations alleviate threat and defensiveness. Self-threats dominate the working self-concept, leading to a constricted self disproportionately influenced by threat. Self-affirmations expand the size of the working self-concept, leading to a broader perspective in which the threat appears more narrow and self-worth realigns with broader dispositional self-views (Experiment 1). Self-affirmed particiapnts, relative to those not affirmed, indicated that threatened self-aspects were less self-defining (although just as important), and this broader perspective on the threat mediated self-affirmation’s reduction of defensiveness (Experiment 2). Finally, having participants complete a simple “perspective” exercise, which offered a broader perspective on self without prompting affirmational processes (Experiment 3a), reduced defensiveness in a manner equivalent to and redundant with a standard self-affirmation manipulation (Experiment 3b). The present model offers a unifying account for a wide variety of seemingly unrelated findings and mysteries in the self-affirmation literature.

Critcher, C. R., Dunning, D., & Rom, S. C.  (2015). Causal trait theories:  A new form of person knowledge that explains egocentric pattern projection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 400-416.

Dunning, D.  (2015). Motivated cognition in self and social thought.  In M. Mikulincer & P. Shaver (Eds.). APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology (vol. 1, pp. 777-804), Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association.

Dunning, D. (2015).  Motivational theoriesIn B. Gawronski & G. Bodenhausen (Eds.). Theory and explanation in social psychology (pp. 108-131)New York:  Guilford.

Dunning, D.  (2015).  On identifying human capital:  Flawed knowledge leads to faulty judgments of expertise by individuals and groups.  In S. Thye & E. Lawler (Eds.), Advances in Group Processes (vol. 32; 00. 149-176).  New York: Emerald.


Anderson, J. E., & Dunning, D.  (2014).  Behavioral norms:  Variants and their identification.  Personality and Social Psychology Compass, 8, 721-738.

Critcher, D. R., & Dunning, D. (2014).  Thinking about others vs. another: Three reasons judgments about collectives and individuals differ.  Personality and Social Psychology Compass, 8, 687-698.

Dunning, D. (2014).  The problem of recognizing one’s own incompetence:  Implications for self-assessment and development in the workplace.  In S. Highhouse, R. S. Dalal, & E. Salas (Eds.), Judgment and decision making at work (pp. 37-56).  New York:  Taylor & Francis.

Dunning, D., Anderson, J.E., Schloesser, T., Ehlebracht, D. & Fetchenhauer, D. (2014). Trust at zero acquaintance: More a matter of respect than expectation of reward. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 122-141.Abstract

Trust is essential for a secure and flourishing social life, but many economic and philosophical approaches argue that rational people should never extend it, in particular to strangers they will never encounter again. Emerging data on the trust game, a laboratory economic exchange, suggests that people trust strangers excessively (i.e., far more than their tolerance for risk and cynical views of their peers should allow). What produces this puzzling “excess” of trust? We argue that people trust due to a norm mandating that they show respect for the other person’s character, presuming the other person has
sufficient integrity and goodwill even if they do not believe it privately. Six studies provided converging evidence that decisions to trust follow the logic of norms. Trusting others is what people think they should do, and the emotions associated with fulfilling a social duty or responsibility (e.g., guilt, anxiety)
account for at least a significant proportion of the excessive trust observed. Regarding the specific norm in play, trust rates collapse when respect for the other person’s character is eliminated as an issue.

Dunning, D., & Helzer, E. G.  (2014).  Beyond the correlation coefficient in studies of self-assessment accuracy:  Commentary on Zell & Krizan (2014)  Perspectives in Psychological Science, 9, 226-231.

Helzer, E. G., & Dunning, D.  (2014).  Context as well as inputs shape decisions, but are people aware of it?  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, 30-31.

Sheldon, S., Dunning, D., & Ames, D. R. (2014).  Emotionally unskilled, unaware, and uninterested in learning more:  Biased self-assessments of emotional intelligence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99, 125-137.

Dunning, D. (2014). Motivated cognition in self and social thought. In M. Mikulincer & P. Shaver (Eds.), APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology, (pp. 777-804). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2013). Considering the situation: Why people are better social psychologists than self-psychologists. Self & Identity, 12, 1-15.

Cole, S., Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2013). Affective signals of threat produce perceived proximity.Psychological Science, 24, 34-40. AbstractDo stimuli appear to be closer when they are more threatening? We tested people’s perceptions of distance to stimuli that they felt were threatening relative to perceptions of stimuli they felt were disgusting or neutral. Two studies demonstrated that stimuli that emitted affective signals of threat (e.g., an aggressive male student) were seen as physically closer than stimuli that emitted affective signals of disgust (e.g., a repulsive male student) or no affective signal. Even after controlling for the direct effects of physiological arousal, object familiarity, and intensity of the negative emotional reaction, we found that threatening stimuli appeared to be physically closer than did disgusting ones (Study 2). These findings highlight the links among biased perception, action regulation, and successful navigation of the environment.

Critcher, C.R. & Dunning, D. (2013). Predicting persons’ goodness versus a person’s goodness: Forecasts diverge for populations versus individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 38-44.Abstract

Behavioral forecasts of individuals (“How likely is it a randomly selected person will . . .”) and behavioral forecasts of populations (“What percentage of people will . . .”) are often used interchangeably. However, 6 studies showed that behavioral forecasts of individuals and populations systematically differ. In judgments of morally relevant behaviors, forecasters estimated that a randomly selected individual (e.g., a student) would act more selflessly (e.g., give to charity) than would the population from which the individual was drawn (e.g., the student body). The studies provided consistent support for 1 of 5 possible explanations for the effect, a differential sensitivity to constraints hypothesis. When considering how an individual will behave, people give weight to an individual-level force on behavior: what an individual’s moral conscience would lead one to do. When considering a population, forecasters
give more emphasis to a group-level force on behavior: social norms and pressures. A final study extended the differential sensitivity to constraints account to forecasts of non–morally relevant behaviors. Individuals were forecast as more likely than populations to perform behaviors that emerge primarily because of an individual-level force—a person’s will—but not behaviors that are encouraged by social norms.

Dunning, D. & Balcetis, E. (2013). Wishful seeing: How preferences shape visual perception. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 33-37. Abstract

People assume that they perceive the world as it really is. In this article, we review research that questions this assumption and instead suggests that people see what they want to see. We discuss classic and current research demonstrating wishful seeing across two perceptual tasks, showing that people categorize ambiguous visual information and represent their environments
in ways that align with their desires. Further, we outline when and how wishful seeing occurs. We suggest directions for future research in light of historical trends and contemporary revisions of the study of wishful seeing.

Dunning, D. & Fetchenhauer, D. (2013). Behavioral influences in the present tense: On expressive versus instrumental action. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 8, 142-145.

Schloesser, T., Dunning, D. & Fetchenhauer, D. (2013). What a feeling: The role of immediate and anticipated emotions in risky decisions. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 26, 13-30. Abstract

The risk-as-feelings hypothesis argues that many risky decisions are not only predicted by anticipated emotions, as most consequentialistic decision making theories would presume, but also by immediate emotions. Immediate emotions refer to the “hot” visceral feelings people feel as they contemplate a specific decision option at the cusp of making a decision, whereas anticipated emotions are those emotions that people
forecast that they will feel once they experience possible consequences of that decision. Four studies focused on the role of both types of emotions in decisions under risk and uncertainty. Decisions were substantively predicted by immediate emotional states beyond anticipated emotions or the subjective probability attached to outcomes. Thus, risky choices may be prompted, in part, by how people feel about the “riskless” portion of the decision—specifically, the various decision options they are contemplating—rather than the potential outcomes those options may produce. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Schloesser, T., Dunning, D., Johnson, K.L. & Kruger, J. (2013). How unaware are the unskilled? Empirical tests of the “signal extraction” counterexplanation for the Dunning-Kruger effect in self-evaluations of performance. Journal of Economic Psychology, 39, 85-100.

Van Boven, L., Loewenstein, G., Dunning, D. & Nordgren, L.L. (2013). Changing places: Empathy gaps in emotional perspective taking. In J. Olson & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (pp. 117-171).

Williams, E.F., Dunning, D. & Kruger, J. (2013). The hobgoblin of consistency: Algorithmic judgment strategies underlie inflated self-assessments of performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 976-994. Abstract

People often hold inflated views of their performance on intellectual tasks, with poor performers exhibiting the most inflation. What leads to such excessive confidence? We suggest that the more people approach such tasks in a “rational” (i.e., consistent, algorithmic) manner, relative to those who use more variable or ad hoc approaches, the more confident they become, irrespective of whether they are reaching correct judgments. In 6 studies, participants completed tests involving logical reasoning, intuitive physics, or financial investment. Those more consistent in their approach to the task rated their performances more positively, including those consistently pursuing the wrong rule. Indeed, completely consistent but wrong participants thought almost as highly of their performance as did completely
consistent and correct participants. Participants were largely aware of the rules they followed and became more confident in their performance when induced to be more systematic in their approach, no matter how misguided that approach was. In part, the link between decision consistency and (over)confidence
was mediated by a neglect of alternative solutions as participants followed a more uniform approach to a task.


Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D. (2012).  A false-positive error in search of selective reporting:  A refutation of Francis.  i-Comment, 3. journal/I/volume/3/article/i0519ic

Balcetis, E., Dunning, D. & Granot, Y. (2012). Subjective value determines initial dominance in binocular rivalry. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 122-129.

Dunning, D. (2012).  Confidence considered:  Assessing the quality of judgment and performance.  In K. Demarree & P. Brinol (Eds.), Social metacognition (pp. 63-80). New York:  Psychology Press.

Dunning, D.  (2012).  Fragmented reflections of the self (review of B. Hood, The self-illusion).  The Psychologist (UK). 25, 694.

Dunning, D. (2012).  Judgment and decision-making.  In S. T. Fiske & C. N. Macrae (Eds.), SAGE handbook of social cognition (pp. 251-272).  Thousand Oaks, CA:  SAGE.

Dunning, D. (2012).  The relation of self to social perception.  In M. Leary and J. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of Self and Identity (2nd ed.; pp. 481-501).  New York:  Guilford.

Dunning, D.  (2012).  What do we really want?  Psychological Inquiry, 23, 258-260.

Dunning, D., Fetchenhauer, D. & Schloesser, T. (2012). Trust as a social and emotional act: Noneconomic considerations in trust behavior. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 686-694. Abstract

We review research suggesting that decisions to trust strangers may not depend on economic dynamics as much as emotional and social ones. Classic treatments of trust emphasize its instrumental or consequential nature, proposing that people trust based on expectations that their trust will be honored and the size of reward if it is. Data from our labs, however, focusing on the trust or investment game, suggest that people trust even when their expectations of reward fall below their general tolerance for risk. Further data from our lab suggests that people trust not out of a concern for the consequences of their actions as much as for the actions themselves. The emotions people report feeling about trusting versus withholding trust predicts their decisions much more strongly than the emotions they attach to the potential outcomes. Social dynamics, such as whether participants have been assigned to a specific counterpart in the game, influence whether they trust, even though their economic expectations and payoffs remain unchanged. The dynamics surrounding decisions to trust are complex, and involve social and emotional considerations beyond economic ones.

Fetchenhauer, D., Azar, O., Antonides, G., Dunning, D., Frank, R., Lea, S., & Ölander, F.  (2012).  Monozygotic twins or unrelated stepchildren?  On the relationship between economic psychology and behavioral economics.  Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 695-699.

Fetchenhauer, D. & Dunning, D. (2012). Betrayal aversion versus principled trustfulness: How to explain risk avoidance and risky choices in trust games. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 81, 534-541. Abstract

Are decisions in a trust game more or less sensitive to changes in risk than decisions in a purely financial, non-social decision-making task? Participants in a binary trust game (they could either keep $5 for sure or give it to a trustee with the chance of getting $10 back) were informed that their chance of interacting with a trustworthy person was either 46 percent or 80 percent and then were asked to decide whether to trust that other person. In addition, participants made a decision in a lottery (i.e., whether to gamble $5 to win $10) with the same probabilities. In the 46 percent condition, participants were significantly more willing to choose the risky option in the trust game than in the lottery. Overall, the difference in probability of receiving money back had a significantly higher impact on the lottery decision than on the decision to trust. Possible interpretations of the present study and its relation to previous findings are discussed.

Helzer, E. G., & Dunning, D.  (2012).  On motivated reasoning and self-belief.  In S. Vazire & T. D. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of self-knowledge (pp. 379-396).  New York:  Guilford.

Helzer, E.G. & Dunning, D. (2012). Why and when peer prediction is superior to self-prediction: The weight given to future aspiration versus past achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 38-53. Abstract

Peer predictions of future behavior and achievement are often more accurate than those furnished by the self. Although both self- and peer predictions correlate equally with future outcomes, peers tend to avoid
the degree of overoptimism so often seen in self-predictions. In 3 studies, the authors tested whether this differential accuracy arises because people give more weight to past behavior when predicting others, but emphasize agentic information, in particular data about their aspiration level, when predicting the self. Studies 1 and 3 showed that the exact same participants rated past behavior more diagnostic of future performance when predicting another person but viewed aspiration-level data as more valuable when someone else was trying to predict them. In Studies 2 and 3 (predicting an upcoming exam score and performance in a lab task, respectively), participants gave greater weight in self-predictions to aspirationlevel data than did a yoked peer, who instead gave greater weight to evidence of past achievement. This differential weighting explained why peer predictions tended to be less optimistic and, thus, more
accurate. Discussion centers on strategies for predicting

Van Boven, L., Loewenstein, G., Welch, E. & Dunning, D. (2012). The illusion of courage: Underestimating the impact of fear of embarrassment on the self. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 25, 1-12.

Williams, E.F., Gilovich, T. & Dunning, D. (2012). Being all that you can be: How potential performances influence assessments of self and others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 143-154.Abstract

An accurate assessment of an individual often requires taking their potential into account. Across six studies the authors found that people are more inclined to do so when evaluating themselves than when evaluating others, such that people
credit themselves for their perceived potential more than they credit others for theirs. Participants rated potential as a more telling component of the self than of others, and the importance participants placed on their own potential led to attentional biases toward information about their own future potential that did not apply to information about the potential of others. Furthermore, when assessing themselves and other people, participants required more tangible proof that someone else has a given level of potential than they required of themselves, and they relied more on how they would ideally perform in
self-assessment but more on how others actually performed in judging them.


Critcher, C.R. & Dunning, D. (2011). No good deed goes unquestioned: Asymmetric cynical attributions maintain the norm of self-interest. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 1207-1213.

Critcher, C.R., Helzer, E.G. & Dunning, D. (2011). Self-enhancement via redefinition: Defining social concepts to ensure positive views of self. In M. Alicke & C. Sedikides (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection, (pp. 69-91). New York: The Guilford Press.

Dunning, D. (2011). The Dunning-Kruger effect: On being ignorant of one’s own ignorance. In J. Olson & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (pp. 247-296). New York: Elsevier.

Dunning, D.  (2011).  Get thee to a laboratory.  Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 34, 18-19.

Dunning, D. (2011). My rather unknown piece about “unknown unknowns” and their role in self-insight. In R. Arkin (Eds.), Most underappreciated: 50 prominent social psychologists talk about hidden gems, (pp. 197-201). Cambridge, UK: Oxford University.

Helzer, E.G. & Dunning, D. (2011). On motivated reasoning and self-belief. In S. Vazire & T. D. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of self-knowledge, (pp. 379-396). New York: Guilford.

Loeckenhoff, C.E., O’Donoghue, T. & Dunning, D. (2011). Age differences in temporal discounting: The role of dispositional affect and anticipated emotions. Psychology and Aging, 26, 274-184.


Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2010). Wishful seeing: Desirable objects are seen as closer. Psychological Science, 21, 147-152.

Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D.  (2010).  Wishful seeing: Motivational influences on visual perception of the physical environment.  In E. Balcetis & D. Lassiter (Eds.), The social psychology of sight (pp. 77-102). New York:  Psychology Press.

Critcher, C.R., Dunning, D. & Armor, D.A. (2010). When self-affirmations reduce defensiveness: Timing is key. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 947-959. Abstract

Research on self-affirmation has shown that simple reminders of self-integrity reduce people’s tendency to respond defensively to threat. Recent research has suggested it is irrelevant whether the self-affirmation exercise takes place before or after the threat or the individual’s defensive response to it, supposedly because the meaning of threats is continuously reprocessed. However, four experiments revealed that affirmations may be effective only when introduced prior to the initiation of a defensive response. Affirmations introduced before threatening feedback reduced defensive responding; affirming after a threat was effective in reducing defensiveness only if the defensive conclusion had yet to be reached. Even though threats may activate a defensive motivation, the authors’ results suggest that defensive responses may not be spontaneous and may be prompted only when suggested by the dependent measures themselves. This explains why some affirmations positioned after threats are effective in reducing defensiveness. Implications for self-affirmation theory are discussed.

Critcher, C. R., Helzer, E. G., & Dunning, D. (2010). Self-enhancement via redefinition:  Defining social concepts to ensure positive views of self.  In M. D. Alicke, & C. Sedikides (Eds.), Handbook of self-enhancement and self-protection (pp. 69-91).  New York:  Guilford.

Dunning, D.  (2010).  Social motivation:  Some introductory notes.  In D. Dunning (ed.) Social motivation (pp. 1-10).  New York: Psychology Press.

Dunning, D. & Fetchenhauer, D. (2010). Trust as an expressive rather than an instrumental act. In S. Thye & E. Lawler (Eds.), Advances in group processes (vol. 27), (pp. 97-127). New York: Emerald.

Dunning, D., & Fetchenhauer, D.  (2010).  Understanding the psychology of trust. In D. Dunning (ed.) Social motivation (pp. 147-170).  New York: Psychology Press.

Fetchenhauer, D. & Dunning, D. (2010). Why so cynical? Asymmetric feedback underlies misguided skepticism in the trustworthiness of others. Psychological Science, 21, 189-193. Abstract

People tend to grossly underestimate the trustworthiness of other people. We tested whether this cynicism grows out of an asymmetry in the feedback people receive when they decide to trust others. When people trust others, they painfully learn when other people prove to be untrustworthy; however, when people refrain from trusting others, they fail to learn of instances when the other person would have honored their trust. Participants saw short videos of other people and had to decide whether to trust each person in an economic game. Participants overall underestimated the trustworthiness of the people they viewed, regardless of whether they were given financial incentives to provide accurate estimates. However, people who received symmetric feedback about the trustworthiness of others (i.e., who received feedback regardless of their own decision to trust)
exhibited reduced cynicism relative to those who received no feedback or asymmetric feedback (i.e., who received feedback only after they trusted the other person).


Critcher, C.R. & Dunning, D. (2009). Egocentric Pattern Projection: How Implicit Personality Theories Recapitulate the Geography of the Self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 1-16.[reprints | abstract]

Critcher, C.R. & Dunning, D. (2009). How chronic self-views influence (and mislead) selfassessments of performance: Self-views shape bottom-up experiences with the task. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(6), 931-945. Abstract

Self-assessments of task performance can draw on both top-down sources of information (preconceived notions about one’s ability at the task) and bottom-up cues (one’s concrete experience with the task itself). Past research has suggested that top-down self-views can mislead performance evaluations but has yet to specify the exact psychological mechanisms that produce this influence. Across 4 experiments, the
authors tested the hypothesis that self-views influence performance evaluations by first shaping perceptions of bottom-up experiences with the task, which in turn inform performance evaluations. Consistent with this hypothesis, a relevant top-down belief influenced performance estimates only when learned of
before, but not after, completing a task (Study 1), and measures of bottom-up experience were found to mediate the link between top-down beliefs about one’s abilities and performance evaluations (Studies 2–4). Furthermore, perception of an objectively definable bottom-up cue (i.e., time it takes to solve a problem) was better predicted by a relevant self-view than the actual passage of time.

Dunning, D.  (2009).  Misbelief and the neglect of environmental context.  Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 32, 517-518.

Dunning, D.  (2009). Self-discovery.  In G. R. Goethals and J. T. Wren (Eds.), Leadership and discovery (pp. 101-120)New York:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Fetchenhauer, D. & Dunning, D. (2009). Do people trust too much or too little? Journal of Economic Psychology, 30, 263-276. Abstract

an economic analysis would suggest. In the trust game paradigm, participants decided whether to hand money over to an anonymous individual who could either return more money back or keep all the money. Participants trusted too little, in that they grossly underestimated the proportion of their peers who would return money, prompting them to forgo profitable decisions to trust. However, participants also trusted too much. Given their high levels of cynicism and tolerance for risk, few should have handed money over, yet many still chose to trust. Possible explanations for this paradox of trusting ‘‘too little”
yet ‘‘too much” are discussed.


Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2008). A mile in moccasins: How situational experience reduces dispositionism in social judgment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 102-114. Abstract

In four studies, this article investigates the impact of situational experience on social inference. Participants without first-hand experience of a situation made more extreme and erroneous inferences about the personalities of people behaving in that situation than did participants with first-hand experience. First-hand experience, thus, appears to diminish dispositionism in social inference because it informs people about the situational constraints that guide behavior. Across all studies, participants also displayed holier-than-thou biases, overpredicting how generously they would act relative to predictions about their peers and also relative to how they actually acted when the situation came.

Balcetis, E., Dunning, D. & Miller, R.L. (2008). Do collectivists know themselves better than individualists? Cross-cultural studies of the holier than thou phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,95, 1252-1267. Abstract

Collectivists know themselves better than individualists do, in that collectivists provide more accurate self-predictions of future behavior in situations with moral or altruistic overtones. In 3 studies, respondents from individualist cultures overestimated the likelihood that they would act generously in situations involving redistributing a reward (Study 1), donating money (Study 2), or avoiding rude behavior (Study 3), whereas
collectivists were, in general, more accurate in their self-predictions. Both groups were roughly accurate in predicting the behavior of their peers. Collectivists were more accurate in their self-predictions than were individualists, even when both groups were sampled from the same cultural group (Study 4). Discussion centers on culturally specific motivations that may bias the accuracy of self-insight and social insight.

Carter, T.J. & Dunning, D. (2008). Faulty Self-Assessment: Why Evaluating One’s Own Competence Is an Intrinsically Difficult Task. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2(1), 346-360. Abstract

People’s perception of their competence often diverges from their true level of
competence. We argue that people have such erroneous view of their competence
because self-evaluation is an intrinsically difficult task. People live in an information environment that does not contain all the data they need for accurate self-evaluation. The information environment is insufficient in two ways. First, when making selfjudgments, people lack crucial categories of information necessary to reach accurate evaluations. Second, although people receive feedback over time that could correct faulty self-assessments, this feedback is often biased, difficult to recognize, or otherwise flawed. Because of the difficulty in making inferences based on such limited and misleading data, it is unreasonable to expect that people will prove accurate in judgments of their skills.

Dunning, D. (2008). Social cognition.  In W. A. Darity, Jr. (Ed.)  International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences  (2nd edition, vol. 7, pp. 569-575).  Detroit:  Macmillan.

Dunning, D., Balcetis, E., & Carter, T.  (2008).  Motivated reasoning below awareness.  International Journal of Psychology, 43, 9.

Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K.L., Banner, M., Dunning, D. & Kruger, J. (2008). Why the unskilled are unaware? Further explorations of (lack of) self-insight among the incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Organizational Decision Processes, 105, 98-121. Abstract

People are typically overly optimistic when evaluating the quality of their performance on social and intellectual tasks. In particular, poor performers grossly overestimate their performances because their incompetence deprives them of the skills needed to
recognize their deficits. Five studies demonstrated that poor performers lack insight into their shortcomings even in real world settings and when given incentives to be accurate. An additional meta-analysis showed that it was lack of insight into their own errors (and not mistaken assessments of their peers) that led to overly optimistic estimates among poor performers. Along the way, these
studies ruled out recent alternative accounts that have been proposed to explain why poor performers hold such positive impressions
of their performance.


Fetchenhauer, D., Dunning, D., Schlösser, T., Gresser, F., & Haferkamp, A.  (2008).  Vertrauen gegnüber fremden:  Befunde aus dem spieltheoretischen labor und dem echten leben.  [Trust among strangers:  Findings from game theory in the lab and real life.]  In E. Rohmann, M. J. Herner, & D. Fetchenhauer (Eds.), Sozialpsychologische beiträge zur positiven psychologie.  Lengerich, Germany:  Pabst Science.


Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2007). Cognitive dissonance and the perception of natural environments.Psychological Science, 18, 917-921. AbstractTwo studies demonstrated that the motivation to resolve cognitive dissonance affects the visual perception of physical environments. In Study 1, subjects crossed a campus quadrangle wearing a costume reminiscent of
Carmen Miranda. In Study 2, subjects pushed themselves up a hill while kneeling on a skateboard. Subjects performed either task under a high-choice, low-choice, or control condition. Subjects in the high-choice conditions, presumably to resolve dissonance, perceived the environment to be less aversive than did subjects in the low-choice and control conditions, seeing a shorter distance to travel (Study 1) and a shallower slope to climb (Study 2). These studies suggest that the impact of motivational states extends from social judgment down into perceptual processes.

Caputo, D. D., & Dunning, D.  (2007).  Distinguishing accurate eyewitness identifications from erroneous ones:  Post-dictive indicators of eyewitness accuracy.  In R. C. L. Lindsay, D. F. Ross, J. D. Read, & M. P. Toglia (Eds.), Handbook of eyewitness psychology:  Volume 2:  Memory for people  (pp. 427-452).  Mahwah, NJ:  Erlbaum.

Dunning, D.  (2007).  Central versus peripheral traits. In R. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (vol. 1, pp. 137-138). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dunning, D.  (2007).  Implicit personality theory. In R. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (vol. 1, pp. 466-467). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dunning, D.  (2007).  Self. In R. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (vol. 2, pp. 785-787). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dunning, D.  (2007).  Self-enhancement. In R. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (vol. 2, pp. 817-819). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dunning, D.  (2007). Self-image motives and consumer behavior: How sacrosanct self-beliefs sway preferences in the marketplace.  Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17, 237-249.

Dunning, D.  (2007).  Self-image motives:  Further thoughts and reflections.  Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17, 258-260.

Dunning, D. (2007).  Prediction:  The inside view.  In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology:  Handbook of basic principles (2nd edition, pp. 69-90).  New York:  Guilford.

Risen, J., Gilovich, T. & Dunning, D. (2007). One-shot illusory correlations and stereotype formation.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1492-1502. [reprints | abstract]


Balcetis, E. & Dunning, D. (2006). See what you want to see: Motivational influences on visual perception.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 612-625. Abstract

People’s motivational states—their wishes and preferences—influence their processing of visual stimuli. In 5 studies, participants shown an ambiguous figure (e.g., one that could be seen either as the letter B or the number 13) tended to report seeing the interpretation that assigned them to outcomes they favored. This finding was affirmed by unobtrusive and implicit measures of perception (e.g., eye tracking, lexical decision tasks) and by experimental procedures demonstrating that participants were aware only of the single (usually favored) interpretation they saw at the time they viewed the stimulus. These studies suggest that the impact of motivation on information processing extends down into preconscious processing of stimuli in the visual environment and thus guides what the visual system presents to conscious awareness.

Dawson, E., Savitsky, K., & Dunning, D.  (2006).  “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know”:  Understanding people’s reluctance to obtain medical diagnostic information. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 751-758

Epley, N. & Dunning, D. (2006). The mixed blessings of self-knowledge in behavioral prediction: Enhanced discrimination but exacerbated bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 641-655.Abstract

Four experiments demonstrate that self-knowledge provides a
mixed blessing in behavioral prediction, depending on how accuracy is measured. Compared with predictions of others, selfknowledge tends to decrease overall accuracy by increasing bias (the mean difference between predicted behavior and reality) but tends to increase overall accuracy by also enhancing discrimination
(the correlation between predicted behavior and reality). Overall, participants’ self-predictions overestimated the likelihood that they would engage in desirable behaviors (bias), whereas peer predictions were relatively unbiased. However, selfpredictions also were more strongly correlated with individual differences in actual behavior (discrimination) than were peer predictions. Discussion addresses the costs and benefits of selfknowledge in behavioral prediction and the broader implications of measuring judgmenta

Fetchenhauer, D., & Dunning, D.  (2006).  Perception of prosociality in self and others.  In D. Fetchenhauer, A. Flache, B. Buunk, & S. Lindenberg (Eds.), Solidarity and prosocial behavior:  An integration of psychological and sociological perspectives (pp. 61-76).  New York:  Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.


Amir, O., Ariely, D., Cooke, A., Dunning, D., Epley, N., Gneezy, U., Koszegi, B., Lichtenstein, D., Mazar, N., Mullainathan, S., Prelec, D., Shafir, E., & Silva, S. (2005).  Behavioral economics, psychology, and public policy.  Marketing Letters, 16, 443-454.

Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D. (2005).  Judging for two:  Some connectionist proposals for how the self informs and constrains social judgment. In M. Alicke, D. Dunning, & J. Krueger (Eds.), Self and social judgment (pp. 181-212).  New York:  Psychology Press.

Caputo, D.D. & Dunning, D. (2005). What you don’t know: The role played by errors of omission in imperfect self-assessments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 488-505. Abstract

Perceptions of ability often bear little relationship to objective performance. We suggest that people fail to judge their ability more accurately because they have little or no insight into their errors of omission (i.e., solutions they could have generated to problems but missed), although they can be perfectly aware of solutions found. Across five studies with tasks involving, for example, word games and research methodology, we found that participants gave weight to the number of solutions found when making self-evaluations, but not to solutions missed. When given explicit information about these errors of omission, participants gave them just as much weight as they did solutions found, and thus provided more accurate self-evaluations.

Dunning, D. (2005). Self-Insight: Roadblocks and detours on the path toward knowing thyself. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Dunning, D., Krueger, J., & Alicke, M.  (2005).  The self and social perception:  Looking back, looking aheadIn M. Alicke, D. Dunning, & J. Krueger (Eds.), Self and social judgment (pp. 269-280).  New York:  Psychology Press.

Krueger, J., Alicke, M., & Dunning, D.  (2005). The self as source and constraint of social perception. . In M. Alicke, D. Dunning, & J. Krueger (Eds.), Self and social judgment (pp. 3-16).  New York:  Psychology Press.

McElwee, R. O., & Dunning, D.  (2005).  A broader view of “self” in egocentric social judgment:  Current and possible selves.  Self and Identity, 4, 113-130.

Van Boven, L., Loewenstein, G., & Dunning, D.  (2005). The illusion of courage in social prediction:  Underestimating the impact of fear of embarrassment on other people.  Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 96, 130-141.


Dunning, D., Heath, C. & Suls, J.M. (2004). Flawed self-assessment: Implications for Health, Education, and the Workplace. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5(3), 69-106.

Dunning, D.  (2004).  But what would a balanced approach look like?  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, 332-333.

Dunning, D.  (2004).  Plunging into the self.  (Review of Psychological dimensions of the self by A. Buss).  Contemporary Psychology:  The APA Journal of Books, 49, 193-94.


Dunning, D., Johnson, K.L., Ehrlinger, J. & Kruger, J. (2003). Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 83-86. Abstract

Successful negotiation of everyday life would seem to require people to possess insight
about deficiencies in their intellectual and social skills. However, people tend to be blissfully unaware of their incompetence. This lack of awareness arises because poor performers are doubly cursed: Their lack of skill deprives them not only of the ability to produce correct responses, but also of the expertise
necessary to surmise that they are not producing them. People base their perceptions of performance, in part, on their preconceived notions about their skills. Because these notions often do not correlate with objective performance, they can lead people to make judgments about their performance that have little to do with actual accomplishment.

Ehrlinger, J. & Dunning, D. (2003). How chronic self-views influence (and potentially mislead) assessments of performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 5-17.

Van Boven, L., Loewenstein, G., & Dunning, D.  (2003).  Biased predictions of others’ tastes:Underestimation of owners’ selling prices by “buyer’s agents.”  Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 51, 351-365.


Dunning, D.  (2002). The relation of self to social perception.  In M. Leary and J. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of Self and Identity (pp. 421-441).  New York:  Guilford.

Dunning, D.  (2002).  The zealous self-affirmer:  How and why the self lurks so pervasively behind social judgment.  In S. Fein & S. Spencer (Eds.) Motivated social perception:  The Ontario symposium  (vol. 9, pp. 45-72),  Mahwah, NJ:  Erlbaum.

Dunning, D., & Perretta, S. F.  (2002).  Automaticity and eyewitness accuracy:  A 10- to 12-second rule for distinguishing accurate from erroneous positive identifications. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 951-962.

Kruger, J. & Dunning, D. (2002). Unskilled and Unaware—But Why? A Reply to Krueger & Mueller. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 189-192.Abstract

J. Kruger and D. Dunning (1999) argued that the unskilled suffer a dual burden: Not only do they perform poorly, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. J. Krueger and R. A. Mueller (2002) replicated these basic findings but interpreted them differently. They concluded that a combination of the better-than-average (BTA) effect and a regression artifact better explains why the unskilled are unaware. The authors of the present article respectfully disagree with this proposal and suggest that any interpretation of J. Krueger and R. A. Mueller’s results is hampered because those authors used unreliable tests and inappropriate measures of relevant mediating variables. Additionally, a regression–BTA account cannot explain the experimental data reported in J. Kruger and D. Dunning or a reanalysis following the procedure suggested by J. Krueger and R. A. Mueller.


Dunning, D.  (2001).  On the motives underlying social cognition.  In N. Schwarz & A. Tesser (Eds.) Blackwell handbook of social psychology:  Volume 1:  Intraindividual processes (pp. 348-374). New York:  Blackwell.

Reprinted in M. B. Brewer & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Emotion and motivation.  New York:  Blackwell, 2004.

Dunning, D.  (2001).  What is the word on self-motives and social perception:  Introduction to the special issue. Motivation and Emotion, 25, 1-6.  (Special Issue on Self-Motives and Social Perception).

Dunning, D., Van Boven, L., Loewenstein, G.  (2001).  Egocentric empathy gaps in social interaction and exchange.  In S. Thye, E. J. Lawler, M. Macy, & H. Walker (Eds.), Advances in Group Processes (vol. 18; pp 65-97), Stamford, CT:  JAI.

McElwee, R. O., Dunning, D., Tan, P. L., & Hollmann, S.  (2001).  Evaluating others:  The role

of who we are versus what we think traits mean. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 23, 123-136.


Dunning, D.  (2000).  Social judgment as implicit social comparison.  In J. Suls & L. Wheeler (Eds), Handbook of social comparison:  Theory and research (pp. 353-378).   New York:  Plenum.

Dunning, D., & Beauregard, K. S.  (2000).  Regulating impressions of others to affirm images of the self.  Social Cognition, 18, 198-222.

Epley, N. & Dunning, D. (2000). Feeling “holier than thou”: Are self-serving assessments produced by errors in self or social prediction? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 861-875.

Van Boven, L., Dunning, D., & Loewenstein, G. (2000).  Egocentric empathy gaps between owners and buyers:  Misperceptions of the endowment effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 66-76


Dunning, D.  (1999).  A newer look: Motivated social cognition and the schematic representation of social concepts.  Psychological Inquiry, 10, 1-11.

Dunning, D.  (1999).  On the social psychology of hearsay evidence.  Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 5, 473-484.

Dunning, D. (1999).  Postcards from the edge: Notes on social psychology, the story so far.  (Review of The handbook of social psychology, vols. 1 and 2. [4th edition]). Contemporary Psychology:  The APA Journal of Books, 44, 6-8.

Dunning, D., Kunda, Z., Murray, S. L. (1999).  What the commentators motivated us to think about.  Psychological Inquiry, 10, 79-82.

Kruger, J. & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1121-1134.Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these
domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.


Beauregard, K. S., & Dunning, D.  (1998).  Turning up the contrast:  Self-enhancement motives prompt egocentric contrast effects in social judgments.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 606-621.

Story, A. L., & Dunning, D.  (1998).  The more rational side of self-serving prototypes:  The effects of success and failure performance feedback.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34, 513-529.


Dunning, D., & Sherman, D. A.  (1997).  Stereotypes and tacit inference.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 459-471.

Reprinted in D. Hamilton (Ed.), Social cognition:  Classic and contemporary readings.  New York:  Psychology Press, 2004.

Hayes, A. F., & Dunning, D.  (1997).  Construal processes and trait ambiguity: Implications for self-peer agreement in personality judgment.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 664-677.


Dunning, D., & Hayes, A. F.  (1996).  Evidence for egocentric comparison in social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 213-229.


Dunning, D.  (1995).  Trait importance and modifiability as factors influencing self-assessment and self-enhancement motives.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 1297-1306.

Dunning, D., Leuenberger, A., & Sherman, D. A.  (1995).  A new look at motivated inference:  Are self-serving theories of success a product of motivational forces?  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 58-68.

Dunning, D., & Madey, S. F.  (1995).  Comparison processes in counterfactual reasoning.  In N. Roese & J. Olson (Eds.), What might have been:  The social psychology of counterfactual thinking  (pp. 103-132).  Hillsdale, NJ:  Erlbaum.

Dunning, D., & McElwee, R. O.  (1995).  Idiosyncratic trait definitions:  Implications for self-description and social judgment.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 936-946.


Dunning, D., & Stern, L. B.  (1994).  Distinguishing accurate from inaccurate eyewitness identifications via inquiries about decision processes.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 818-835.

Ross, D. F., Ceci, S. J., Dunning, D., & Toglia, M. P.  (1994).  Unconscious transference and lineup identification:  Toward a memory blending approach.  In D. Ross, J. D. Read, & M. P. Toglia (Eds.) Adult eyewitness testimony:  Current trends and developments (pp. 80-100).  New York:  Cambridge University Press.

Ross, D. F., Ceci, S. J., Dunning, D., & Toglia, M. P.  (1994).  Unconscious transference and mistaken identity:  When a witness misidentifies a familiar but innocent person.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 918-930.

Stern, L. B., & Dunning, D.  (1994).  Distinguishing accurate from inaccurate eyewitness identifications:  A reality monitoring approach.  In D. Ross, J. D. Read, & M. P. Toglia (Eds.) Adult eyewitness testimony:  Current trends and developments (pp. 273-299).  New York:   Cambridge University Press.

Toglia, M. P., Ross, D. F., Dunning, D., & Ceci, S. J.  (1994, Spring).  Jurors’ perceptions of child witnesses:  A reply to Sonner.  Prosecutors Perspective, 11.


Dunning, D.  (1993).  Words to live by:  The self and definitions of social concepts and categories.  In J. Suls (Ed.) Psychological perspectives on the self  (vol. 4, pp. 99-126).  Hillsdale, NJ:  Erlbaum.


Dunning, D., & Cohen, G. L.  (1992).  Egocentric definitions of traits and abilities in social judgment.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 341-355.

Dunning, D., & Stern, L. B.  (1992).  Examining the generality of eyewitness hypermnesia:  A

close look at time delay and question type.  Applied Cognitive Psychology, 6, 643-658.


Dunning, D., Perie, M., & Story, A. L.  (1991).  Self-serving prototypes of social categories.   Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 957-968.

Dunning, D., & Story, A. L.  (1991).  Depression, realism, and the overconfidence effect:  Are the sadder wiser when predicting future actions and events?  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 521-532.


Dunning, D., Griffin, D. W., Milojkovic, J. H., & Ross, L.  (1990).  The overconfidence effect in social prediction.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 568-592.

Griffin, D. W., Dunning, D., & Ross, L.  (1990).  The role of construal processes in overconfident predictions about the self and others.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1128-1139.

Ross, D. F., Dunning, D., Toglia, M. P., & Ceci, S. J.  (1990).  The child in the eyes of the jury:  Assessing mock jurors’ perceptions of the child witness.  Law and Human Behavior, 14, 5-24.


Dunning, D. (1989).  Research on children’s eyewitness testimony:  Perspectives on its past and future.  In S. J. Ceci, D. F. Ross, & M. P. Toglia (eds.)  New directions in child witness research.  (pp. 230-247).  New York:  Springer-Verlag.

Dunning, D., Meyerowitz, J. A., & Holzberg, A. D.  (1989).  Ambiguity and self-evaluation:  The role of idiosyncratic trait definitions in self-serving assessments of ability.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1082-1090.

Reprinted in T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman, Heuristics and biases:  The psychology of intuitive judgment.  New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Dunning, D., & Parpal, M.  (1989).  Mental addition versus subtraction in counterfactual reasoning:  On assessing the impact of personal actions and life events.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 5-15.

Ross, D. F., Dunning, D., Toglia, M. P., & Ceci, S. J.  (1989).  Age stereotypes, communication modality, and mock juror perceptions of the child witness.  In S. J. Ceci, D. F. Ross, & M. P. Toglia (eds.)  New directions in child witness research.  (pp. 37-56).  New York:  Springer-Verlag.


Helzer, E.G. & Dunning, D. (2015). Why and when peer prediction is superior to self-prediction: The weight given to future aspiration versus past achievement. (Under Review).

Dunning, D., & Cone, J.  Cassandra’s quandary:  Does genius hide in plain sight? Under review, Science.

Schlösser, T., Fetchenhauer, D., & Dunning, D.  Against all odds?  The emotional dynamics underlying trust.  Revision under review, Decision.

Dunning, D., & Roh, S. Do mistaken claims about President Obama’s birthplace and religion reflect authentic belief?  Under review, PNAS.