Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why am I the One Who ALWAYS Puts the TP on the TP Holder in this House?


Simply Stated By by

"I love discovering apt psychological terms for phenomena that I’ve noticed in my own life. I recently learned the term “unconscious overclaiming”—and realized that I’m a big offender.

In “unconscious overclaiming,” we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people’s. For example, in one study, when students in a work group each estimated their contribution to the team, the total was 139 percent.

This makes sense, because of course we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do. I complain about the time I spend organizing babysitting or paying bills, but I overlook the time my husband spends dealing with our car or food-shopping. Also, we tend to do work that we think is valuable, and think that other people’s priorities aren’t as important. I think writing thank-you notes is important, and baking brownies is less important. My husband takes the opposite view.

It’s easy to see that overclaiming leads to resentment. So now when I find myself thinking, “I’m the only one around here who bothers to…” or “Why do I always have to be the one who…?” I remind myself of all the tasks I don’t do.

A funny related bias is the “Lake Wobegon effect,” the tendency of most people to believe they rate above average. (It’s named for Garrison Keillor’s imaginary town of Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.”) Studies show that most people think they’re above average in fairness, luck, popularity, investing ability, and many other traits. In one survey, 80% of respondents put themselves in the top 30% of all drivers.

I love the mere word “overclaiming.” It’s perfect for what it describes. Are there any area in which you tend to “overclaim” your contribution, relative to other people?

We Can't See the Forest Through The Fog Sometimes!


Miss Jen said...

I'm SOOOOOO this way. I think it's the top thing about me that drives Lowell bonkers! Oopsie Poodle...Sorry, Lowell! (see...I thought that was just darling and WAY above average!)

Bonnie said...

What are you talking about? You ARE just darling and way above average and Lowell knows that. I thought this was an interesting concept though.