Don't be dazzled by big egos

by Stephanie Zillman23 May 2013

All too often the loudest voices demand the most attention – but new research from New Zealand shows that those people with excessive self-belief in their skills and ability may be the least likely to produce the best results.

According to a new research report from the University of Otago, based on data collected by observing 300 marketing students, those with the biggest egos often don’t deliver. What’s more, in cases where students believed they deserved the highest marks, it was more likely for those students to perform the worst. “Those with an exaggerated belief in what they deserve tended to do worse in their exams than those who took personal responsibility and were internally motivated for success,” study leader Donna Anderson said.

The more ego-driven students were in fact more likely to fail in cases where they found the exam more difficult than expected, when compared with other students who also found the test “surprisingly challenging”. It seems inflated self-belief and high stress is a disastrous combination.

The hypothesis also supports the idea that people who think they have a natural entitlement, or who believe that other people are responsible for their success or failure, are less motivated to put in more effort when required, Dr Anderson said.

The results were published in the International Journal of Higher Education, and represent the first study to provide evidence that “excessive entitlement” interferes with an individual’s ability to actually achieve success.