Assessing recognition memory using confidence ratings and response times

R Soc Open Sci. 2016 Apr 13;3(4):150670. doi: 10.1098/rsos.150670. eCollection 2016 Apr.


Classification of stimuli into categories (such as 'old' and 'new' in tests of recognition memory or 'present' versus 'absent' in signal detection tasks) requires the mapping of internal signals to discrete responses. Introspective judgements about a given choice response are regularly employed in research, legal and clinical settings in an effort to measure the signal that is thought to be the basis of the classification decision. Correlations between introspective judgements and task performance suggest that such ratings often do convey information about internal states that are relevant for a given task, but well-known limitations of introspection call the fidelity of this information into question. We investigated to what extent response times can reveal information usually assessed with explicit confidence ratings. We quantitatively compared response times to confidence ratings in their ability to qualify recognition memory decisions and found convergent results suggesting that much of the information from confidence ratings can be obtained from response times.

Keywords: confidence ratings; receiver operating characteristic; recognition memory; response times.