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Confidence, Not Talent, Determines Career Success: Study

Officedesk 060112 15Aug12

Workers who display high degrees of confidence are often promoted before their more-talented peers, leading to a prevalence of under-qualified leaders in the workplace, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California shows.

For the study, researchers surveyed 500 students, academics and workers on the perception of confident people in social and work environments. In a series of six experiments, overconfident subjects were found to be more likely to gain higher respect from their peers - even if their knowledge base was lacking or incorrect.

Factors contributing to their popularity and success included willingness to participate in group activities, participation in group conversation and volume and tone of voice.

"Our studies found overconfidence helped people attain social status," said lead researcher Cameron Anderson. "Those who believed they were better than others, even when they weren't, were given a higher place in the social ladder, and the motivation to attain higher social status therefore triggered overconfidence."

"In organizations, people are very easily swayed by others' confidence even when that confidence is unjustified. Displays of confidence are given an inordinate amount of weight," he added.

The data appeared in the current edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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