In my January 2011 critique of Amy Chua’s bad parenting advice, I wrote:
Americans parents understand that self-esteem is more important than actual results, because if you are convinced that you are great, you will fool most people, and therefore receive more credit for your work and be more likely to be promoted. Self-esteem is important for value transference activities, which are the highest paying activities. Especially for sales; sales requires super-high self-esteem. The low self-esteem Chinese will make great low-paid value-creating engineers and the whites with high self esteem will make more money selling the stuff that the Chinese engineers design.
A recent Wall Street Journal blog post demonstrates the truth of what I wrote:
Overconfident people are perceived as having more social status. In one of several related experiments, researchers had people take a geography quiz —first alone, then in pairs. The task involved placing cities on a map of North America unmarked by state or national borders. The participants rated themselves on their own abilities and rated each other, secretly, on a number of qualities.
As expected, most people rated their own geographic knowledge far higher than actual performance would justify. In the interesting new twist, however, the people most prone to overrate themselves got higher marks from their partners on whether they “deserved respect and admiration, had influence over the decisions, led the decision-making process, and contributed to the decisions.”