Curse Of Knowledge

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Let’s talk about cognitive biases: CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that describes the tendency to overestimate the intelligence of others on a given topic, leading to a mismatch between your communication style and assumptions with reality. Essentially, this entails that those who poses more knowledge in a domain often struggle to take this difference of into account when communicating.

This is a very common bias in academia, particularly areas where people go down rabbit holes and surround themselves with others who are in those rabbit holes. Imagine talking to someone in quantum physics or biostatistics; there is a lot of jargon that they might not even know they are using due to the curse of knowledge.

It’s also common among those who desire external validation for their intelligence. They may use jargon and complex descriptions in an attempt to sound smarter, when all it does is confuse.

The curse of knowledge also has a tendency to make it difficult for people to predict how people will act. What this means is if you are a more intellectual being it’s hard to understand why others do the things they do, or have the thought processes they do. It hinders the ability to predict the behaviors of others when you have a high baseline of information that dictates your decisions.

Now how do we avoid this bias?

The easiest way to overcome the curse of knowledge bias is to know your audience, solicit feedback, and perspective shift. It’s impossible to avoid this bias entirely, but mitigation as much as possible is necessary to communicate effectively. Your communication style needs to match the audience, right? You can talk differently to other professionals than you can the layperson. And if you do talk to those outside your wheelhouse, check in with them to ensure everything is being understood. If it isn’t, that’s good feedback for changing how you communicate.

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