Feelings of Confidence and the Realism of Confidence Judgments in Everyday Life
Carl Martin Allwood Lund University
Pär Anders Granhag Göteborg University
In the last decade, confidence judgments has been a popular research area in psychology (e.g., McClelland & Bolgar 1994). Still, our understanding of such judgments has only improved to a very limited extent. In this chapter we suggest that one way to improve this situation is to more closely attempt to identify the phenomenon under study. By attending more to the complexity of confidence judgments as they actually occur in everyday life, a more realistic understanding of at least some of the issues dealt with in previous research can be achieved. We hope that our characterization of confidence judgments in everyday life will convince the reader that one- or few-factor explanations, such as illustrated by the theories reviewed by McClelland and Bolgar ( 1994) for general knowledge questions, are unrealistically oversimplified when applied to confidence judgments in everyday life.
In previous research on confidence judgments, it has often not been clear what phenomenon the research is assumed to concern. The tacit assumption has usually been that it is confidence judgments in everyday life that is the object of study, directly or indirectly. However, it is not clear to which extent the phenomenon called confidence judgment, researched and presented in the research literature, overlaps with confidence judgments as performed in everyday life.
On a more fundamental level, the criteria used for identifying a phenomenon such as confidence judgments need to be considered. At least two possibilities present themselves. The first is to define the phenomenon in terms of a type of task performed: "a confidence judgment." This involves