The Curse of Knowledge…
On a recent trip, I picked up a copy of the Invisible Gorilla – a really great book about the tricks our mind plays on us.
You probably know the famous story about the experiment where people were asked to watch a video of a basketball game and count the passes?
In the middle of the video a woman walks onto the court dressed in a gorilla suit, thumps her chest and walked off again…?
Did You See Her?
When asked whether anything unusual happened, around half of the people did not notice the gorilla.
Amazing. But our mind notices what we put our attention on – so by focusing on counting the passes, it’s totally natural that we don’t notice the gorilla.
But – I digress….
It’s Not About Gorillas, It’s About Knowledge
The story that caught my eye was a different one. One that is at the front of my mind right now as I’m preparing a new training programme.
How Much Do You Know?
Have you ever had that feeling that your stuff isn’t good enough? That everyone “must know this anyway” so are you really adding anything new?
Well maybe that’s overstating it! But the reality is, that as experts, teachers, and communicators, we often underestimate the value of what we know.
And it turns out this is a universal truth. It even has a name – the curse of knowledge (or at least that’s what the Yale researchers called it).
When they did experiments to test how good we are at assessing what we know and how good we are at assessing what other people know, they found that we are particularly bad at assessing what other people know.
And, even worse – we tend to assume that because we know something – other people must know it too. I often find myself telling my clients that they are underestimating the value of what they know.
Your Customers Really Don’t Know As Much As You Think They Do!
This backs it up. Because we know something, we think other people know it too. And the science tells us that this is often not true. We are actually pretty bad at figuring out what other people know.
So – when you next worry that your blog post or your training programme is “too basic” and “don’t people know that already” – the answer is – “no, they probably don’t!”
I’d love to hear your experience of this – do you ever think go through that phenomenon – that you under-value what you know? Leave a comment below and let me know!
In the UK you can get the Invisible Gorilla here