What we really know about our abilities and our knowledge

Recent research has only documented the experimental side of the scientific divide (which focuses on means and ignores individual differences) regarding what individuals know about their abilities and knowledge level. The current paper shows that research from the other side of the scientific divide, namely the correlational approach (which focuses on individual differences), provides a very different perspective for people’s views of their own intellectual abilities and knowledge. Previous research is reviewed, and an empirical study of 228 adults (aged 21-62 yrs) is described where self-report assessments of abilities and knowledge are compared with objective measures. Correlations of self-rating and objective-score pairings show both substantial convergent and discriminant validity, indicating that individuals have both generally accurate and differentiated views of their relative standing on abilities and knowledge.