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Tips from the Top: Do the Best Performers Really Give the Best Advice?

Everyone knows that if you want to learn how to do something, you should get advice from those who do it well. But is everyone right? In a series of studies (N=8693), participants played a game after receiving performance advice from previous participants. Although advice from the best-performing advisors was no more beneficial than advice from other advisors, participants believed it had been, despite the fact that they were told nothing about their advisor’s performance. Why? Because the best performers did not give better advice, but they did give more of it, and participants apparently mistook quantity for quality. These studies suggest that performing and advising may often be unrelated skills, and that in at least some domains, people may overvalue advice from top performers.

David Levari
Harvard Business School
United States

Daniel Gilbert
Harvard University
United States

Timothy Wilson
University of Virginia
United States


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