Oblivious, but then ignorance is bliss
By ColmSmyth on Nov 15, 2004
Adi Oltean's blog over on MSDN points out a brief but fascinating report hosted on the the American Psychological Association about a well run study that shows that poor performers over-rate themselves, which supports the old saw "the more you know, the more you know you don't know". Well, now you know.
But it's interesting to cross-reference that with a second article on the APA site which proposes that social comparison happens subliminally, and automatically.
Personally I choose to believe the first report because the second one appears to rely on snap judgements based on looking at photographs of people who are considered to be archetypically young (e.g. a baby), intelligent (e.g. Einstein) or beautiful, or their converse. It seems to me however that the primacy effect and a purely perceptual (rather than cognitive) classification plays too strong a role for that to be an effective predictor of a participant's day-to-day self image.