Certainty Is Primarily Determined by Past Performance During Concept Learning

Louis Martí, Francis Mollica, Steven Piantadosi, Celeste Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prior research has yielded mixed findings on whether learners? certainty reflects veridical probabilities from observed evidence. We compared predictions from an idealized model of learning to humans? subjective reports of certainty during a Boolean concept-learning task in order to examine subjective certainty over the course of abstract, logical concept learning. Our analysis evaluated theoretically motivated potential predictors of certainty to determine how well each predicted participants? subjective reports of certainty. Regression analyses that controlled for individual differences demonstrated that despite learning curves tracking the ideal learning models, reported certainty was best explained by performance rather than measures derived from a learning model. In particular, participants? confidence was driven primarily by how well they observed themselves doing, not by idealized statistical inferences made from the data they observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-60
Number of pages14
JournalOpen Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science (Open Mind)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018


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