How to understand the career trajectory of Larry Summers
I heard from a Wall Street Journal recently that Summers is on the short list for the Fed Chair. I’m wondering, how often and in how many ways does this guy need to fail before people stop thinking this guy is the silver bullet?
Then I remember this article which talks about a study that connects overconfidence with social status. From the article:
“Our studies found that overconfidence helped people attain social status. People who believed they were better than others, even when they weren’t, were given a higher place in the social ladder. And the motive to attain higher social status thus spurred overconfidence,” says Anderson, the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication II at the Haas School.
Social status is the respect, prominence, and influence individuals enjoy in the eyes of others. Within work groups, for example, higher status individuals tend to be more admired, listened to, and have more sway over the group’s discussions and decisions. These “alphas” of the group have more clout and prestige than other members. Anderson says these research findings are important because they help shed light on a longstanding puzzle: why overconfidence is so common, in spite of its risks. His findings suggest that falsely believing one is better than others has profound social benefits for the individual.
Of course, Larry Summers isn’t the only example of this I can think of, but he’s a pretty perfect one.