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The worse-than-average effect or below-average effect is the opposite of the usually-pervasive Lake Wobegon effect (which may be called the better-than-average effect in contexts where the two are compared or the Overconfidence effect in other situations). It has been proposed more recently to explain reversals of that effect, where people instead underestimate their own desirable traits.
This effect seems to occur when chances of success are perceived to be extremely rare. Traits which people tend to underestimate include juggling ability, the ability to ride a unicycle, the odds of living past 100 or of finding a U.S. twenty dollar bill on the ground in the next two weeks.
- Kruger, J. (1999). Lake Wobegon be gone! The "below-average effect" and the egocentric nature of comparative ability judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 2, 221-232.
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