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Who knows? Knowledge activation, belief in certainty of knowledge, maximization tendencies and need for cognition in answerability judgments.

Journal article
Authors Sandra Buratti
Carl Martin Allwood
Bodil Karlsson
Published in The Journal of general psychology
Volume 144
Issue 1
Pages 35-58
ISSN 0022-1309
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 35-58
Language en
Keywords Answerability judgments, individual differences, belief in certainty of knowledge, maximization, need for cognition
Subject categories Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


In this study, investigating answerability judgments, 123 participants judged whether each of 46 general knowledge questions could currently be answered by themselves, by someone else, or by no one. There were 26 consensus questions (high expected consensus about their answerability) and 20 non-consensus questions. Before each question, half of the participants rated the extent of their knowledge related to the question. Results showed that answering consensus questions compared with non-consensus led to a lower proportion of “No one knows” answers. Moreover, in the knowledge rating condition compared with the control condition, participants choose " No one knows" proportionally less. Participants’ ratings of belief in certainty of knowledge were associated with more “Someone else knows” for the non-consensus questions. Moreover, tendency to maximization led to a higher proportion of “Someone else knows” options for the non-consensus questions. Finally, high need for cognition was associated with fewer choices of “Someone else knows.”

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