Everyone’s Above Average

Studies show that most people think they are above average in just about everything provided that they have already done the activity in question. It is certainly true about driving. Studies show that if you ask people if they are:

  • above average driver
  • average driver
  • below average driver

large majorities will say that they are above average drivers. Of course that is statistically impossible. I know this is true for the US where being average is for some insane reason seen as actually a bad thing, but I wonder if it is true for other countries too? Anyway I think it rules out a biological predisposition to pessimism.

Reminds me of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, where everyone in town is above average.


Filed under Psychology

5 responses to “Everyone’s Above Average

  1. Jason Y

    People don’t really believe that. Take math for instance. Many people think they suck at it, so they don’t major in it. That would go for other stuff too. How many ordinary guys do you see trying out for the NBA?

  2. Gay State Girl

    I’m a terrible driver as I have the coordination of a young child.

  3. James Schipper

    Dear Robert

    Just to be pedantic, it is mathematically possible for most people to be above the average in some field, just as it is possible for most people to be below the average, which is the case in income distribution. The majority can be below the average if the mean is higher than the median, and the majority can be above the average if the mean is lower than the median. Let’s illustrate this. Nine people took a test. Three of them scored 9, 3 scored 7 and 3 scored 2. Their average is 6, and 2/3 of them are above it. The median is 7, so it lies above the mean. QED

    Regards. James

  4. Tulio


    I think this is all most true with intelligence. Even dumb people think they are smart. Don’t think I’ve once every heard someone refer to themselves as dumb.

    • Jason Y

      No, actually there are some fairly smart people who think thier dumb, mainly cause of the negative consequence of hanging with dumb crowds. Also, people have have had thier self esteem smashed, so they think they’re dumb when they really aren’t.

      Imagine your some fairly smart kid and you grow up in a school of average kids or hoodlums, you might be pressured to act to be cool, and you might eventually believe your really dumb.

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