November 7th, 2019
It was October of my first semester in college and it was time for midterms. The first of my two midterms was my English midterm. In English class I was doing somewhat poorly I really needed to improve and do well on the test I thought I was ready and that I knew the material what would be covered in my exam well enough that I did not need to study that much so the night before I briefly put together a practice exam but did not finish it or check the answers. So the next morning I walked to class with my backpack on thinking oh yeah I got this (I have many things but I did not have this ) I got to class at 8:55 saw everyone pulling out there laptops and instantly knew I messed up I had decided that I did not need my laptop for class because we were taking an exam and you usually need just a pencil for an exam never your laptop but I was mistaken I then asked my professor “can get my laptop I left in my room”.
He responded, “probably a good idea”. so I quickly left the room and went back down two flights of stairs and then sprinted to my resident hall ran up the four flights of stairs that I had just gone down not even fifteen minutes ago threw open the door to my room and grabbed the laptop from my desk and then went back down the four flights of stairs left my resident hall and ran back to class and reentered the room within a few minutes and sat down in the first seat that was open and began working through the exam. During the exam I took my time and answered every question and felt mostly confident about my answers, however, this morning was not meant to be a good morning as about halfway through I began to feel it. It moved from my stomach down through my body to a certain area in which my body was telling me it was ready to go. What was it? it was a stomachache that would be needing to pass. Luckily, I was able to hold it and finish the test and then pass this movement once completing the test. After this, I was able to proceed with my day normally by going to my next few classes. First, I went to math took a math test and then proceeded to my next class writing lab in writing lab the teacher (not the same teacher as my English teacher) this teacher asked me how I did and I was like “I did great”.
Too, which she said, “really, well I hope you did as well as you think you did”. We moved on from this and began the lesson reading an article published by the New York times written ironically by Daniel Kahneman after this class I didn’t really think too much about my English exam for the rest of the day and went on normally until Wednesday when first thing in the morning I got hit with a 56% and realized I messed up.
This story is a perfect example of how overconfidence in one’s own Judgement can influence their decision making and cloud their vision however this overconfidence is not just limited to Just you and me it is much bigger than that with psychologist all over the world doing studies on it one psychologist in particular I would like to mention is Daniel Kahneman he is an American Israeli psychologist that is most famous for his philosophies on judgment. In his 2011 article in the New York times, he goes over his philosophies about judgment and how he came to understand them. In the article he covers seven or so terms that he came up with however it will only be necessary for right now to know four of the seven. The first of the four and most likely the most important is a cognitive fallacy. A cognitive fallacy is false beliefs and mistakes in judgment due to these beliefs, an example of this would be when I believed that I did not need to study because I was smart enough to pass the test without studying which caused me to fail. The second term is the illusion of validity and this is the idea that no matter how useless the thing you’re doing is you will continue to do it if you feel like it is important to you an example of this would be me doing the practice exam and not finishing it or checking the answers for the exam. The third term is the illusion of skill, which means that people mistake skill for luck an example of this would be doing well on a test by only studying a little bit however when the next comes around and you study the same amount but do poorly. The fourth and final term that needs to be covered is W.Y.S.I.A.T.I which is an acronym for what you see is all there is, which means that in order to really see someone for who they are you have to see past what’s on the surface an example of this would be when you just meet someone and construct an opinion on them, based on outer looks and maybe a small interaction without really getting to know them. Generally, I agree with Kahneman’s Ideas, for the most part, seem to be true however when dealing with the made there are usually grey areas so these don’t always apply and there can sometimes be overlap between two ideas. ideas but that’s not really knock on his ideas it’s more of a disclaimer in case someone tries to explain something as just one thing when it could very well be a combination of multiple different ideas such as if you try explaining something like just the illusion of validity but really its both the illusion of validity and skill.
In the story above why did I make those judgements? Because I am not the brightest probably or maybe it was overconfidence in my abilities as a student and because I was too busy goofing off. I would like to say it was purely the second but then I would be lying so it was most likely a combination of both anyways what lead to the decisions of not really studying and leaving my laptop in my room when in English I have used my laptop the most out of any class. The first decision to not study was because of overconfidence in my abilities due to an illusion of skill that I could just fumble my way through the exam and do alright and I was proven wrong by the 56% I received on the exam. The second decision was made because of previous knowledge from other midterms exams causing me to make a poor assumption about the exam causing me to show up unprepared to class and if you have one wrong move such as showing up without your stuff can be the spell the end for you mentally without even starting the exam. But how could I have prevented myself from falling victim to these decisions? Well for the first poor decision there was nothing I could have done except realize my mistake of not actually studying and start studying, however if I’m being honest there was no way for me to realize this without first failing on the actual test so I could be snapped out of this mindset and come to the realization that for all test I can’t just rely on some kind of “intuition” that I think I have instead of actually studying. The second decision could have been prevented by just thinking a little bit more deeply and realizing that this class was not like all the other classes and that I would need my computer for the exam