OH! Magazine - Australian Version April 2016 - Page 21
THERE ARE THREE
TYPES OF STUPID...
Greg Sellar discusses the notion of stupidity.
e all do stupid stuff from time to
time, but Forrest Gump got it
wrong when he declared ‘Stupid is as
‘Lazy’, ‘useless’, ‘dumb’, ‘incompetent’
– call it what you like – we get caught
labelling ourselves because we think
there must be a conscious reason why
we’ve behaved at the high end of the
It’s important to know that you are not
your actions and behaviours. You might
do stupid stuff from time to time, but it
doesn’t mean you are stupid. You might
fail at something, but it doesn’t warrant
the ‘I’m a failure’ tag we lump on
Using language to brand our identity is a
dangerous exercise that can convince us
we are less capable than we actually are.
It also presupposes that we can’t change
in the future. Mistakes can be rectified,
and even for those that can’t this time
around, you’ll have other opportunities.
Listen within your language (whether
spoken or not), to how many times a day
you have a go at yourself and make
identity statements based on what you do
(or don’t do).
The more we tie who we are into our
actions and behaviours, the more it
erodes our self-confidence and esteem. If
we can learn to separate who we are from
what we do, it’s more likely that we can
succeed in the future.
Balazs Aczel, a professor at the Institute
of Psychology at Eotvos Lorand University
in Budapest, conducted research in the
surprisingly understudied area of ‘Unintelligent Behaviour’. He and his team
were interested in what people viewed as
being stupid behaviour, and how we
became associated with those behaviours
as people. He had a group of students
rank perceived stupid behaviour found in
the media from TMZ, New York Post and
other outlets, on a scale of one to ten.
Students also had to write a sentence or
two on why they thought the actions and
behaviours were stupid. Professor Aczel
identified three types of stupidity, which
rated as follows (from highest to lowest):
1. Confident ignorance: The highest level
of stupidity defined as engaging in risky
actions without the skills or knowledge
required to carry them out successfully.
When someone says they can do
something and they clearly can’t, their
overconfidence is labelled stupid. It isn’t,
it’s just misguided relative to skill levels.
The classic example is the thief who
thought he stole a mobile phone, when in
fact he stole a GPS, which the police
used to track him down.
2. Lack of control: This rated second in
the stupid stakes, as demonstrated by a
lack of ability to moderate your own
impulsive behaviour. An example might
be to miss an important meeting because
you wanted some extra time at the beach.
3. Absentmindedness / lack of practicality:
The students were most lenient to these
actions and behaviours, referring to
instances where people failed a practical
task (e.g., failing to make sense of the
IKEA flat-pack), either out of distraction
or because of a lack of practical skills.
All three categories aren’t indicative of
the person being stupid, or a failure, but
of being misguided as to their current
skill level, using misjudgement of a
situation, or being temporarily absentminded. This suggests that a person can
step out of these behaviours at any point,
simply by recalibrating their expectations,
by being realistic regarding their skill
concentrating on the task at hand.
The bottom line is, you’re not stupid. In
fact, you’re actually just one step away
from being a genius.
YOU CAN CONTACT GREG VIA:
( OH! MAGAZINE ) APRIL 2016