Naive empiricism and dogmatism in confidence research: a critical examination of the hard-easy effect

Psychol Rev. 2000 Apr;107(2):384-96. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.107.2.384.


Two robust phenomena in research on confidence in one's general knowledge are the overconfidence phenomenon and the hard-easy effect. In this article, the authors propose that the hard-easy effect has been interpreted with insufficient attention to the scale-end effects, the linear dependency, and the regression effects in data and that the continued adherence to the idea of a "cognitive overconfidence bias" is mediated by selective attention to particular data sets. A quantitative review of studies with 2-alternative general knowledge items demonstrates that, contrary to widespread belief, there is (a) very little support for a cognitive-processing bias in these data; (b) a difference between representative and selected item samples that is not reducible to the difference in difficulty; and (c) near elimination of the hard-easy effect when there is control for scale-end effects and linear dependency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Psychological Theory*