My research, situated in the areas of judgment and decision-making and social cognition, concerns how people think about themselves and others. Research on the way people think about themselves focuses on self-judgments and self-theories related to knowledge, learning, and self-control. Research on the way people think about others focuses on social perceptions in professional contexts.

Self-Judgments of Knowledge

It is critical to recognize not only what one knows, but also the limits of one’s knowledge; an overly optimistic assessment of where these limits lie can lead to confident but ill-advised decisions, and can hinder the pursuit of necessary knowledge. In my work, in collaboration with David Dunning and Emily Rosenzweig, I find that people often overestimate their knowledge to the point of believing themselves familiar with concepts, terms, places, etc. that were invented for the purpose of the study and therefore cannot be known. People are particularly likely to mistakenly believe they know specific nonexistent terms when they consider themselves generally knowledgeable in the topic from which the terms are drawn (Atir, Rosenzweig, & Dunning, 2015). This suggests that even specific knowledge judgments are not always based on direct access to a mental catalogue of information. Rather, they can be inferential; those who feel knowledgeable within a domain wrongly infer they have knowledge of domain-relate terms.

Self perceptions of knowledge can diverge sharply from genuine knowledge; in related work, I find that possessing genuine knowledge acts as a protective factor against knowledge mistakes within the relevant domain, in part because truly knowledgeable people assess their knowledge in a more automatic fashion (Atir, Rosenzweig, & Dunning, in prep).

Speaking About Others in Professional Contexts

A second line of research, in collaboration with Melissa Ferguson, reveals a gender bias in how people refer to others in professional contexts. Additional details soon.