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Stability in the Metamemory Realism of Eyewitnesses Confidence Judgments

Journal article
Authors Sandra Buratti
Carl Martin Allwood
Marcus Johansson
Published in Cognitive Processing
Volume 15
Issue 1
Pages 39-53
ISSN 1612-4782
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 39-53
Language en
Keywords Confidence – Confidence accuracy – Realism of confidence – Calibration – Stability – Eyewitness memory – Metamemory
Subject categories Psychology


The stability of eyewitness confidence judgments over time in regard to their reported memory and accuracy of these judgments is of interest in forensic contexts because witnesses are often interviewed many times. The present study investigated the stability of the confidence judgments of memory reports of a witnessed event and of the accuracy of these judgments over three occasions, each separated by 1 week. Three age groups were studied: younger children (8–9 years), older children (10–11 years), and adults (19–31 years). A total of 93 participants viewed a short film clip and were asked to answer directed two-alternative forced-choice questions about the film clip and to confidence judge each answer. Different questions about details in the film clip were used on each of the three test occasions. Confidence as such did not exhibit stability over time on an individual basis. However, the difference between confidence and proportion correct did exhibit stability across time, in terms of both over/underconfidence and calibration. With respect to age, the adults and older children exhibited more stability than the younger children for calibration. Furthermore, some support for instability was found with respect to the difference between the average confidence level for correct and incorrect answers (slope). Unexpectedly, however, the younger children’s slope was found to be more stable than the adults. Compared to the previous research, the present study’s use of more advanced statistical methods provides a more nuanced understanding of the stability of confidence judgments in the eyewitness reports of children and adults.

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