Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Do test items that induce overconfidence make unskilled performers unaware?
by Hartwig, Marissa K., Ph.D., Kent State University, 2013, 59; 3618886
Abstract (Summary)

When a person estimates their global (overall) performance on a test they just completed, low performers often overestimate their performance whereas high performers estimate more accurately or slightly underestimate. Thus, low performers have been described as 'unskilled and unaware' (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). However, recent evidence (Hartwig & Dunlosky, in press) demonstrates that low performers sometimes estimate accurately. What determines whether a participant estimates accurately vs. inaccurately remains unclear. Thus, the present research asks: What might participants use as the basis for their global estimates, and can it explain the accuracy of those estimates? One intuitive possibility is that participants use their response confidence in test items as the basis of their global estimates. A simple instantiation of this idea is described by the item-frequency hypothesis, which posits that participants compute the frequency of their high-confidence responses, and this frequency serves as an estimate of their global performance. A corollary of this hypothesis is that items that produce high confidence in wrong answers (i.e., false alarms, or FAs) will contribute to global overestimates, whereas items that produce low confidence in correct answers (i.e., misses) will contribute to global underestimates. Study 1 found preliminary support for the hypothesis, because the frequency of high-confidence responses on a typical trivia test was correlated with participants' global estimates, and the imbalance of FAs vs. misses predicted the accuracy of those estimates. To evaluate the hypothesis experimentally, Studies 2 and 3 manipulated the frequencies of FAs and misses that a trivia test was expected to yield, and participants were randomly assigned to receive one of the tests. Tests designed to yield many FAs (relative to misses) produced global overestimation, tests designed to yield more misses (relative to FAs) produced underestimation, and tests designed to yield a balance of FAs and misses produced accurate estimation. Thus, the selection of test items affects global estimates and their accuracy. The imbalance of FAs and misses could not explain all individual differences in estimation accuracy, but it nonetheless was a moderate predictor of global estimation accuracy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dunlosky, John
Commitee: Dunlosky, John, Gallagher, Timothy, Spitznagel, Mary Beth, Was, Christopher, Zaragoza, Maria
School: Kent State University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Personality psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Calibration, Judgment accuracy, Metacognition, Overestimation, Unskilled-and-unaware
Publication Number: 3618886
ISBN: 978-1-303-87432-1
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