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American Teens Most Likely To Brag About Their Math Skills: Study

The study polled more than 40,000 15-year-olds from nine English-speaking countries. 

American teenagers are the most likely to brag about their maths ability, according to new research.

Irish and Scottish teens were least likely to do so – while, overall, boys were more likely to over claim than girls.

The study of more than 40,000 15-year-olds from nine English-speaking nations found those in North America were the most likely to exaggerate their mathematical knowledge.

Those from advantaged backgrounds were more likely to do so than those from less advantaged groups, according to the findings published in the journal Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice.

In most countries, migrants were more likely to brag than the native-born, particularly in Northern Ireland and New Zealand although not in the United States.

The study of more than 40,000 15-year-olds from nine English-speaking nations found those in North America were the most likely to exaggerate their mathematical knowledge. PHOTO BY ANOUSHKA PURI/UNSPLASH 

Three broad clusters of countries emerged, with the United States and Canada most likely to make excessive claims of math knowledge, and with Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland at the bottom. In the middle were Australia, New Zealand, England and Wales.

Researchers used responses from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), in which participants took a two-hour math test alongside a 30-minute background questionnaire.

They were asked how familiar they were with each of 16 mathematical terms – but three of the terms were fake.

Further questions revealed those who claimed familiarity with non-existent mathematical concepts were also more likely to display overconfidence in their academic prowess, problem-solving skills and perseverance.

For example, they claimed higher levels of competence in calculating a discount on a television and in finding their way to a destination.

Two thirds of those most likely to overestimate their mathematical ability were confident they could work out the petrol consumption of a car, compared to just 40 percent of those least likely to do so.

Those likely to over-claim were also more likely to say if their mobile phone stopped sending texts they would consult a manual while those less likely to do so tended to say they would react by pressing all the buttons.

Over-claimers were also more likely to say they were popular with their peers at school.

The study of more than 40,000 15-year-olds from nine English-speaking nations found those in North America were the most likely to exaggerate their mathematical knowledge. PHOTO BY ANOUSHKA PURI/UNSPLASH 

Lead author Professor John Jerrim, of UCL Institute of Education in London, said: “Our research provides important new insight into how those who over-claim about their math ability also exhibit high levels of over-confidence in other areas.

“Although ‘overclaiming’ may at first seem to be a negative social trait, we have previously found that overconfident individuals are more likely to land top-jobs.”

He added: “The fact that young men tend to overclaim their knowledge more than young women, and the rich are more likely to overclaim than the poor, could be related to the different labor market outcomes of these groups.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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