I'm looking for a name of a cognitive bias that describes the following phenomenon:

A person has been exposed to some area of expertise from a very early age (think 7-10), and for an extended period of time. This can be sports, computers, musical instruments, etc. As the child matures, the child does not realize that such exposure has created a level of competency where even advanced tasks are easy for them.

After growing up such child may be surprised to find out that ordinary people do not have his/her level of expertise. As adults, such people can continue to write books or give advice, being [completely] oblivious that others do not come even close to their level of expertise.

What is the name of this cognitive bias, where individuals do not realize that other people do not share the same level of expertise?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if it is necessary for this phenomenon to occur that training of the expert has to have begun in childhood. What I rather believe is that it is necessary for the level of expertise to be exceedingly high and far removed from the questions and problems that a beginner encounters, so that the expert has forgotten what it was like to struggle with the initial understanding. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ What about the opposite? Where others think that because of your prior actions and experiences that you have more expertise than you actually have? $\endgroup$
    – Dan D.
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DanD.A related phenomenon is the "illusion of explanatory depth", but that tends to be restricted to self-appraisal. $\endgroup$
    – Krysta
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ This may also fall under the Dunning-Kruger effect: "... highly competent individuals may erroneously assume that tasks easy for them to perform are also easy for other people to perform, or that other people will have a similar understanding of subjects that they themselves are well-versed in." $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 21:14

3 Answers 3


This sounds similar to the "curse of knowledge" phenomenon (also called the "curse of expertise" by at least one publication that I found).

From Wikipedia:

"The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias according to which better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people."

Some references:

  • Camerer, C., Loewenstein, G., & Weber, M. (1989). The curse of knowledge in economic settings: An experimental analysis. The Journal of Political Economy, 1232-1254.
  • Birch, S. A., & Bloom, P. (2007). The curse of knowledge in reasoning about false beliefs. Psychological Science, 18(5), 382-386.
  • Hinds, P. J. (1999). The curse of expertise: The effects of expertise and debiasing methods on prediction of novice performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 5(2), 205.
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Would be helpful to define curse of knowledge phenomenon in this answer $\endgroup$
    – Krysta
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ Might it be worth establishing a link with tacit knowledge? $\endgroup$
    – opyate
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 10:53

Reminds me of (one side of) the Dunning–Kruger effect, where "people of high ability incorrectly assume that tasks that are easy for them are also easy for other people."


As I am from an education background -I can't do, so I teach. from Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(philosophy_of_education)#Person-Centered_Messages : The main premise of Constructivism is the ability to construct person-centered messages to accomplish one’s goal. Griffin explains a person-centered message is a “tailor-made message for a specific individual and context” (Griffin 101). If carry through with their person-centered message then they are able to manipulate their original message in mind and adjust it to whatever level the person they are talking to will best understand it.[1] 1. Glaserfeld, E. (1989). Constructivism in education. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press. p. 162.

The expert is unaware of how learning in his field is developed so cannot meet the person he is communicating with, where they are in the development process.

Is there a term for 'empathy' of conceptual cognitive framework? This is what the expert lacks.

The expert is efficient in using heuristics. To examine the heuristc employed and discover where the other person is connected takes effortand away from the comfort zone. I would put forward "laziness" or "disinterest" but that suggests agency(intentional action) so to be kind to those loveable boffins lets make it a symptom ie the bias of being stuck in habituated heuristics.


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