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Considering the Knowledge You Have: Effects on Realism in Confidence Judgements

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In three experiments, the hypothesis was tested that the realism of subjects' item-specific confidence judgements of their own answers to general knowledge questions would be improved by making the subjects heed content which might be expected to lower their confidence ratings. In each experiment, all subjects answered knowledge questions and then rated their confidence in their chosen answer. Before each question, the subjects in the experimental condition assessed the extent of their knowledge in a knowledge-area encompassing the knowledge question. Experiments 1 and 2 differed only in the design of the knowledge-area assessment scale. In Experiment 3, when making knowledge-area assessments, the subjects were asked to find examples of knowledge they lacked in the knowledge-area. Both Experiments 2 and 3 showed significantly improved realism in the subjects' confidence judgements. An aggregate assessment of the total number of questions believed to be answered correctly, given by the subjects at the end of Experiments 2 and 3, showed underconfidence in the experimental condition, particularly in Experiment 3. The results support the idea that the content active in subjects' memory at the time when confidence judgements are made affects their realism. Furthermore, our results show that the realism of subjects' item-specific confidence judgements can be improved without giving feedback.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1996


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