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Discrete confidence levels revealed by sequential decisions

Lisi, M; Mongillo, G; Milne, G; Dekker, T; Gorea, A; (2021) Discrete confidence levels revealed by sequential decisions. Nature Human Behaviour , 5 pp. 273-280. 10.1038/s41562-020-00953-1. Green open access

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Abstract

Humans can meaningfully express their confidence about uncertain events. Normatively, these beliefs should correspond to Bayesian probabilities. However, it is unclear whether the normative theory provides an accurate description of the human sense of confidence, partly because the self-report measures used in most studies hinder quantitative comparison with normative predictions. To measure confidence objectively, we developed a dual-decision task in which the correctness of a first decision determines the correct answer of a second decision, thus mimicking real-life situations in which confidence guides future choices. While participants were able to use confidence to improve performance, they fell short of the ideal Bayesian strategy. Instead, behaviour was better explained by a model with a few discrete confidence levels. These findings question the descriptive validity of normative accounts, and suggest that confidence judgments might be based on point estimates of the relevant variables, rather than on their full probability distributions.

Type: Article
Title: Discrete confidence levels revealed by sequential decisions
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-020-00953-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00953-1
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Human behaviour, Sensory processing
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112006
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