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Context, Feedback, and the Calibration and Resolution of Confidence in Perceptual Judgments

William M. Petrusic and Joseph V. Baranski
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 110, No. 4 (Winter, 1997), pp. 543-572
DOI: 10.2307/1423410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423410
Page Count: 30
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Context, Feedback, and the Calibration and Resolution of Confidence in Perceptual Judgments
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Abstract

The effects of variations in the global task difficulty context on judgmental confidence and confidence calibration were investigated in two experiments requiring perceptual comparisons. In Experiment 1, target judgments of moderate difficulty were embedded in a larger set of more difficult (hard context) or less difficult (easy context) judgments. Decisional response time on the target items was longer in the hard context condition, but there was no effect of difficulty context on target judgment confidence, accuracy, over/underconfidence, calibration, or resolution. In Experiment 2, each subject was exposed to three levels of local judgment difficulty. The global contextual difficulty manipulation involved varying the frequency with which the hard and easy judgments appeared, and the presence or absence of trial-by-trial response feedback was manipulated between subjects. As in Experiment 1, contextual difficulty affected decisional response times but not mean confidence ratings or accuracy. However, we found that providing feedback on a globally difficult task improves calibration, but providing feedback on a globally easy task makes calibration worse. Also, resolution (the ability to differentiate correct from incorrect judgments) was found to be superior for easy judgments in a difficult context and for difficult judgments in an easy context. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on confidence and confidence calibration.

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