A Goal Activation Account of Confidence Judgments

dc.creatorKevin Zish
dc.description.abstractCurrent theories and models of confidence need to be improved to provide a simpler and broader explanation for the relationship between confidence and memory. For example, current theories of confidence posit dozens of features of memory that inform a confidence judgment, making predictions about how confidence changes with novel manipulations difficult. In addition, current models of confidence make robust predictions for tasks with discrete trials but do not specify how a confidence judgment is formed for more complex tasks. In this dissertation I demonstrate that confidence may not be based on a large number of diverse memory features, but rather a more unitary construct, goal activation as defined by Memory for Goals (MFG). MFG is an activation-based model written in the ACT-R cognitive architecture. I begin by investigating how confidence changes in procedural tasks. Procedural tasks already have a strong theoretical back-ground rooted in goal activation and provide the opportunity to investigate how confidence changes in a task over time. For Study 1, I demonstrate the existence of confidence carryover which is a novel finding that current models of confidence do not make predictions about. For Study 2, I formalize confidence carryover mathematically with two different procedural tasks. For Study 3, I show that the predicted outcomes of two competing models of confidence judgments can be formed using subtle memory manipulations. The results of Study 3 add a strategic component that is not addressed by any model of confidence judgments. The results of all three studies suggest that goal activation as seen in MFG is the likely source people use when forming confidence judgments.
dc.titleA Goal Activation Account of Confidence Judgments
thesis.degree.disciplinePsychology, Human Factors/Applied Cognition Concentration
thesis.degree.grantorGeorge Mason University


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