Research by Newcastle University and the University of Exeter, published in the journal PLUS ONE, found a direct link between how people view their own talents and how they are perceived by their peers.
This was apparent in many ways, such as over-confident individuals often getting high predicted grades for upcoming exams, regardless of their final score.
Similarly, people with an unjustifiably high opinion of themselves were found to be more likely to be promoted at work.
Dr Vivek Nityananda, research associate at Newcastle University, commented: “People don’t always reward the most accomplished individual but rather the most self-deceived.
“We think this supports an evolutionary theory of self-deception.”
However, Dr Nityananda warned that people who overrate themselves and deceive others about their capabilities can be more likely to take risks, which could be problematic if they have attained senior positions in organisations such as banks.