An above average performer’s better than around 50 per cent of the performance, or so we’ve all been led to believe by many decades of bell curves. Not so, according to research that suggests that most of us aren’t in fact on the average bell — we’re below where the mathematical average should be.
If you’ve ever thought that being on the average of a bell curve is a fine place to be, sad news; you’re more likely to be below that average than sitting on it, based on research that looked at the performance of 633,263 individuals engaged in (variously) politics, entertainment, athletics and academic paper writing.
What the research claims to have discovered is that the averages in most cases are blown out of whack by exceptional performers who drag the average for the group upwards. As such, where the average for the group should be according to the maths isn’t where the majority of people’s actual abilities lie, because the curve is out of whack. That makes perfect mathematical sense — but unless you’re one of those superstar performers, it means you’re probably quite bland, which is more than a little depressing. [Personnel Psychology via NPR]