Which Trait Would You Rather Have: Confidence or Accuracy?

Would you rather be confident but, perhaps, incorrect, or accurate but insecure? Would others appreciate you more as a confident person or an accurate one? It all depends on the situation, for sure. Let’s talk about day-to-day life situations and communication through mass media (including Twitter, Facebook, etc.).


A recent study of Twitter investigated how professional pundits and amateurs predicted the results of baseball games. The study shows that people who are confident about predicting the results have more followers and are in more demand, regardless of accuracy of the predictions. In other words, if you are confident, you get more popularity. It does not matter whether you are right or wrong.
What are the implications of that study? The results can, perhaps, be generalized. They may explain some of the examples where confidence brings significant benefits to an individual despite of low accuracy:
  • Hitler moved unparalleled crowds. He had a vision and was confident about it. His accuracy was very low. For sure. His racist claims were not backed by any scientific evidence.
  • Recently I was told a story how you can travel by bus in Copenhagen with an invalid ticket. How do you do that? Be confident that your ticket is valid, smile to the driver, and show only a part of the ticket so that the expiry date is hidden. Perfect confidence and no accuracy. It is confirmed that the story works for blond girls. If they can pull it off, then you can do that as well.
It’s easy to say be confident, but how do you gain confidence if you are not confident? Confidence comes from experience and familiarity with various situations. Getting into unexpected situations gives you new experience. Getting out of your comfort zone makes you uncomfortable and exposes your fragility to others. That’s how confidence is built. What is a natural setting where you can exercise both? Traveling!

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