Wednesday, July 15, 2009

overestimating control

This quote from the altogether-way-too-prolific Matt Yglesias I reacted to with an internally enthusiastic "Yes exactly!!" so since it is only one sentence from several million he's written in the last five minutes I wanted to re-quote it selectively. (Note: it was in the context of discussing Obama's Ghana speech, which you should definitely read.)
One sociological finding I’m fascinated with is the fact that the extent to which one overestimates one’s personal degree of control over one’s fortunes is an important predictor of success. In other words, success in life is partly a result of circumstances and luck and partly a result of individual effort. And people who overestimate the importance of effort at more likely to succeed. It makes sense when you think about it, but it’s also a bit paradoxical.

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