Are you smarter than average? Are you more compassionate than other people? Are you more concerned about the environment? You probably answer “yes” to these statements.
And guess what? So does everyone else.
The well documented “Illusory Superiority” effect — also known as the Lake Wobegon Effect or the better-than-average effect — describes how most people think their skills and abilities are better than those of others, even though, by definition, it’s not actually possible for everyone to be better than average. In reality, for most population distributions, about half of people are worse than average and half are better than average.
But we’re motivated to feel good about ourselves — especially when it comes to our abilities and values. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in a range of domains, including cognitive abilities, health, and even operating a vehicle. In one commonly cited study, about 80% of people rate themselves above-average drivers.
The effect has been widely documented in US, Europe, and Asia, but in few regions beyond that. Moreover, little research has focused on the illusory superiority effect as it relates to energy and the environment.