Children and chess expertise: the role of calibration

Psychol Res. 1992;54(1):44-50. doi: 10.1007/BF01359223.


Three studies of calibration are reported. Calibration refers to the accuracy with which one can predict one's own performance. In the first study child chess players, non-chess playing parents, and statistics students were asked to predict chances of winning chess games against hypothetical opponents. These subjective probabilities were compared to the actual probabilities, based on the Elo rating system. Better players' predictions were better calibrated. Confidence and ratings are negatively correlated, indicating that with lower ratings, players re overconfident. Skilled child players' predictions were better calibrated than any of the adults'. In the second study subjects were asked to estimate chances of winning in conjunctive situations, e.g., winning all the rounds in a tournament. Again, better child players were more accurate in their predictions and more accurate than adults. In the third study, child players were asked to predict their chances of winning in a non-chess domain after hearing a hypothetical win/loss history. Higher-rated players' predictions were again better calibrated, even though the domain was outside their expertise. The motivational and cognitive implications of calibration are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Game Theory*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Probability Learning
  • Problem Solving*