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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.


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