Testing Competing Claims About Overclaiming

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Overclaiming has been described as people’s tendency to overestimate their cognitive abilities in general and their knowledge in particular. We discuss four different perspectives on the phenomenon of overclaiming that have been proposed in the research literature; Overclaiming as a result of a) self-enhancement tendencies, b) as a cognitive bias (e.g., hindsight bias, memory bias), c) as proxy for cognitive abilities, and d) as sign of creative engagement. Moreover, we discuss two different scoring methods for an OCQ (signal detection theory vs. familiarity ratings). To distinguish between the different viewpoints of what overclaiming is, we juxtaposed overclaiming, as indicated by claiming familiarity with non-existent terms, with fluid and crystallized intelligence, self-reported knowledge, creativity, faking ability, and personality. Overclaiming was measured with a newly comprised overclaiming questionnaire. Results of several latent variable analyses based upon a multivariate study with 298 participants were; First, overclaiming is neither predicted by honesty-humility nor faking ability and therefore reflects something different than mere self-enhancement tendencies. Second, overclaiming is not predicted by crystallized intelligence, but is highly predictive of self-reported knowledge and, thus, not suitable as an index or a proxy for cognitive abilities. Finally, overclaiming is neither related to divergent thinking and originality, and only moderately predicted by self-reported openness creativity from the HEXACO which means that overclaiming does not reflect creative ability. In sum, our results favor an interpretation of overclaiming as a phenomenon that requires more than self-enhancement motivation, in contrast to the claim that was initially proposed in the literature.

In Intelligence

Links to all co-authors:

Selina Weiss

Diana Steger

Ulrich Schroeders

Oliver Wilhelm