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Cultural Differences in Answerability Judgments

Journal article
Authors Bodil Karlsson
Carl Martin Allwood
Published in Frontiers in Psychology
Volume 9
ISSN 1664-1078
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords answerability, judgment, answerability judgments, knowledge questions, confidence judgments, probabilistic thinking, individualism, collectivism, cognition, orientation, confidence, knowledge, China
Subject categories Psychology


Judgments about whether anyone can provide a relevant and correct answer to a question are called answerability judgments. Such judgements can be important in societal planning and decision making and may vary in different cultural contexts. Six hundred participants in each of China, India, and Sweden made answerability judgments of six difficult knowledge questions. For each question, they choose between three options indicating that they thought the question was answerable and a fourth option: "Nobody can answer that question." After each question, they rated their confidence that their judgment was correct. Choosing "Nobody can answer that question" was significantly more common for the Swedes and was uncommon in the Asian samples. The Asian samples showed higher confidence in their judgments. We suggest that these differences may be explained by results from cross-cultural research, but this study did not investigate specific mechanisms. Hence, more research is needed.

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