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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2000 May;26(3):582-600.

ROC curves and confidence judgements in recognition memory.

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Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Most models of recognition memory rely on a strength/familiarity-based signal detection account that assumes that the processes giving rise to a confidence judgment are the same as those giving rise to an old-new decision. Confidence is assumed to be scaled directly from the perceived familiarity of a probe. This assumption was tested in 2 experiments that examine the shape of confidence-based z receiver operating characteristic (zROC) curves under different levels of response bias induced by changing stimulus probabilities (Experiment 1) and payoffs (Experiment 2). Changes in the shape of the zROC curves with bias indicate that confidence is not scaled directly from perceived familiarity or likelihood. A model of information accumulation in recognition memory is proposed that can account for the observed effects.

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