In this paper nine world regions (based on samples from 33 nations) are compared in their performance on a cognitive ability test and confidence ratings obtained from the items of the same test. Our results indicate that differences between the world regions are greater on cognitive ability than they are on confidence ratings. Consequently, overconfidence – i.e., the degree to which people overestimate their performance on cognitive tasks - is pronounced within the world regions that have lower scores on measures of cognitive ability. A less pronounced overconfidence is also present among the high achieving world regions. Our findings support a cognitive hypothesis according to which individuals suffer from illusory superiority if the task is difficult. Thus, a commonly observed overconfidence can be seen as a selfdeceiving, probably unconscious, mechanism that cushions a person (and countries) from experiencing negative feelings due to cognitive failures.
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