The science of Ability Confidence Types centers on the measurement of Cognitive Confidence.

The type of confidence we are talking about here is a stable individual characteristic or trait that relates to the faith a person has in their cognition or thought processes. It influences the habitual way a person assesses the accuracy of their decisions. As a result, some of us are naturally certain, positive and assured when it comes to our view of our abilities, whilst others are hesitant, unsure and doubtful.

Our Cognitive Confidence is closely related to both our ability and personality, but is distinct from both. Importantly, a person’s confidence in their ability has a “top down” influence on their decision making. What this means is, as a person’s confidence increases, so does the likelihood that they will put their solution or opinion into action.

For some people, the lack of confidence is a “hand-brake” in their decision making. Despite having the ability to solve problems and develop insightful opinions, their lack of self belief in their thinking, and their doubts that they have reached the correct conclusion, can send them into a cycle of checking and rechecking their thinking, and seeking more information or advice before making a decision.

For others, it’s too much confidence in their abilities that can cause problems in the decision making process. That’s because high Cognitive Confidence “short-cuts” the mental checking processes that are important to good judgment. People with too much confidence will back their opinion and may jump into decisions without recognizing the inherent risks in their thinking and actions. In learning environments, this may see people failing to explore all the available options and possibilities, and then following one particular approach, because they have such strong and unquestioning faith in their ability they do not recognize that there could be another alternative that is correct!

Cognitive Confidence is measured by embedding survey questions into ebilities’ mental agility test format. Immediately after answering a test question, the test taker is asked to indicate their level of confidence in their answer by choosing a percentage. The scale extends up to 100% as an indicator they are absolutely sure they are correct.

In the scoring process*, it’s the alignment between a person’s confidence in their abilities and their actual abilities, that determines their Ability Confidence Type.

* International Patents applyebilities Confidence Types and Personality

We have an active and ongoing research program to identify the career supporting and career derailing personality and behavioural characteristics associated with Ability Confidence Types.

Our findings, and the findings of other like-minded researchers in the field, include:

  • There are small correlations between Confidence and the ‘Openness’ factor from the Big 5 model of Personality suggesting that individuals who are high in cognitive confidence are also more open to new experiences.
  • Individuals with higher Cognitive Confidence have the belief that they can cope with any situation that might arise in their work,
  • Individuals who are low in Cognitive Confidence are likely to become increasingly cautious as their ability levels increase. A tendency to avoid situations where they are likely to the centre of attention, and a fear of taking risks because of concerns about being negatively evaluated, are characteristics which may well derail a person’s career and limit their occupational progression.
  • Individuals who are both high in ability and high in Cognitive Confidence were more likely to show higher, self-rated achievement potential and higher resilience and feelings of well being. They also report that they are more able to think analytically about themselves and others, and can see beyond surface cues and be aware of subtle meanings.
  • Low confidence amongst lower ability individuals was related to a self-reported lower capacity to deal with frustration and control anger, at work. Overall, these individuals admitted to patterns of behavior that indicated they were more likely to be higher safety risks, in not following or complying with safety-related rules and/or failing to display safety related behaviors at work. Individuals with a lack of confidence in their ability and their competence, may protect themselves against feelings of inadequacy through assigning blame to others for their perceived shortcomings, leading to feelings of hostility and the potential for openly expressing anger toward other people.


Want to know more?