Modeling confidence and response time in recognition memory

Psychol Rev. 2009 Jan;116(1):59-83. doi: 10.1037/a0014086.


A new model for confidence judgments in recognition memory is presented. In the model, the match between a single test item and memory produces a distribution of evidence, with better matches corresponding to distributions with higher means. On this match dimension, confidence criteria are placed, and the areas between the criteria under the distribution are used as drift rates to drive racing Ornstein-Uhlenbeck diffusion processes. The model is fit to confidence judgments and quantile response times from two recognition memory experiments that manipulated word frequency and speed versus accuracy emphasis. The model and data show that the standard signal detection interpretation of z-transformed receiver operating characteristic (z-ROC) functions is wrong. The model also explains sequential effects in which the slope of the z-ROC function changes by about 10% as a function of the prior response in the test list.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Association Learning*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Paired-Associate Learning*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • ROC Curve
  • Reaction Time*
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Signal Detection, Psychological*