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Improved realism of confidence for an episodic memory event

Journal article
Authors Sandra Buratti
Carl Martin Allwood
Published in Judgment and Decision Making
Volume 7
Issue 5
Pages 590-601
ISSN 1930-2975
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 590-601
Language en
Keywords calibration, second-order judgments, confidence judgments, metacognition, recall memory, eyewitness-identification, effect size, judgments, accuracy, fluency, overconfidence, statistics, retrieval, designs, truth
Subject categories Psychology


We asked whether people can make their confidence judgments more realistic (accurate) by adjusting them, with the aim of improving the relationship between the level of confidence and the correctness of the answer. This adjustment can be considered to include a so-called second-order metacognitive judgment. The participants first gave confidence judgments about their answers to questions about a video clip they had just watched. Next, they attempted to increase their accuracy by identifying confidence judgments in need of adjustment and then modifying them. The participants managed to increase their metacognitive realism, thus decreasing their absolute bias and improving their calibration, although the effects were small. We also examined the relationship between confidence judgments that were adjusted and the retrieval fluency and the phenomenological memory quality participants experienced when first answering the questions; this quality was one of either Remember (associated with concrete, vivid details) or Know (associated with a feeling of familiarity). Confidence judgments associated with low retrieval fluency and the memory quality of knowing were modified more often. In brief, our results provide evidence that people can improve the realism of their confidence judgments, mainly by decreasing their confidence for incorrect answers. Thus, this study supports the conclusion that people can perform successful second-order metacognitive judgments.

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