Monday, September 20, 2010

The progress of humankind

In 1995, a Harris Poll asked: "Would you say you are a better than average driver, an average driver or worse than average?"
54% said better, 40% average, and only 1% worse (most of the remaining 5% didn't drive)

People have a pretty high estimate of their abilities in most areas, so the general pattern isn't surprising. But a 1965 Gallup Poll makes an interesting comparison:

"In general, how do you rate yourself as a driver--better than average, average, or not up to average?"
36% said better, 62% average, and 2% not up to average (non-drivers were not asked)

The question wordings weren't identical, but I don't see any reason that they should produce different responses, so it looks like Americans' estimate of their own driving ability became substantially more favorable over the thirty years.


  1. Maybe it'll turn out that 2% of the drivers cause 90% of the accidents.

  2. That's true, there could be a lot of drivers who are slightly better than average and a few who are a lot worse than average. Then the distribution of self-assessments could reflect reality. I don't really believe that, but it's possible.

    I'm impressed that you found my blog. I haven't been doing much publicity yet.