Skip to main content

The Office Know-It-All Knows Less Than You Think

Every office has a know-it-all employee, but a new study concludes that he or she doesn't know everything. In fact, he or she may not know that much after all!

Researchers at Cornell University and Tulane University reveal that know-it-alls tend to "overclaim" -- meaning, they can pull "facts" out of thin air and rely on made-up information. No wonder they tend to talk so much!

The researchers asked 100 study participants to rate their knowledge of financial investing. Would a few know-it-alls rise like Apple stock from the group, and would their self-proclaimed investing knowledge be highly accurate, or somewhat exaggerated?

To find out, the researchers presented the group with a few examples of fake financial terminology (pre-rated stocks, fixed-rate deduction, annualized credit?) sprinkled among a set of bonafide financial terminology (IRAs, inflation, etc.) and let them...discuss.

Here's what happened, as reported by Psych Central:

As expected, people who saw themselves as financial wizards were most likely to claim expertise of the bogus finance terms.

"The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms," [Cornell University Psychological Scientist Stav] Atir said. "The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography."

In another experiment, participants were asked to share their knowledge of biology. The catch: They were told up front that some of the biology terms presented to them were made-up and entirely false. Even after being warned, those who tended toward know-it-all-ism asserted a clear conversational confidence in intellectually-iffy terms such as "meta-toxins" and "bio-sexual."

So what is the take away here? Well, it's obvious, isn't it? As the office know-it-all attempts to fill in your knowledge gaps once again, you would be right to wonder how much is fact, and how much is fiction. Trust your instincts, and your own mind. Trust, but verify.

And go to your inner happy place while it's happening. Trust me, it works.


Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…