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Psychol Rev. 2015 Jul;122(3):542-57. doi: 10.1037/a0039251.

Signal detection and threshold modeling of confidence-rating ROCs: A critical test with minimal assumptions.

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Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of Basel.
Institut für Psychologie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg.


An ongoing discussion in the recognition-memory literature concerns the question of whether recognition judgments reflect a direct mapping of graded memory representations (a notion that is instantiated by signal detection theory) or whether they are mediated by a discrete-state representation with the possibility of complete information loss (a notion that is instantiated by threshold models). These 2 accounts are usually evaluated by comparing their (penalized) fits to receiver operating characteristic data, a procedure that is predicated on substantial auxiliary assumptions, which if violated can invalidate results. We show that the 2 accounts can be compared on the basis of critical tests that invoke only minimal assumptions. Using previously published receiver operating characteristic data, we show that confidence-rating judgments are consistent with a discrete-state account. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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