Post choice information integration as a causal determinant of confidence: Novel data and a computational account

Cogn Psychol. 2015 May;78:99-147. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2015.01.002. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Confidence judgments are pivotal in the performance of daily tasks and in many domains of scientific research including the behavioral sciences, psychology and neuroscience. Positive resolution i.e., the positive correlation between choice-correctness and choice-confidence is a critical property of confidence judgments, which justifies their ubiquity. In the current paper, we study the mechanism underlying confidence judgments and their resolution by investigating the source of the inputs for the confidence-calculation. We focus on the intriguing debate between two families of confidence theories. According to single stage theories, confidence is based on the same information that underlies the decision (or on some other aspect of the decision process), whereas according to dual stage theories, confidence is affected by novel information that is collected after the decision was made. In three experiments, we support the case for dual stage theories by showing that post-choice perceptual availability manipulations exert a causal effect on confidence-resolution in the decision followed by confidence paradigm. These finding establish the role of RT2, the duration of the post-choice information-integration stage, as a prime dependent variable that theories of confidence should account for. We then present a novel list of robust empirical patterns ('hurdles') involving RT2 to guide further theorizing about confidence judgments. Finally, we present a unified computational dual stage model for choice, confidence and their latencies namely, the collapsing confidence boundary model (CCB). According to CCB, a diffusion-process choice is followed by a second evidence-integration stage towards a stochastic collapsing confidence boundary. Despite its simplicity, CCB clears the entire list of hurdles.

Keywords: Collapsing boundaries; Confidence; Decision making; Perception; Resolution of confidence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cognition
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Young Adult