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A dynamic model of deciding not to choose


Reynolds, A and Garton, R and Kvam, P and Sauer, J and Osth, A and Heathcote, A, A dynamic model of deciding not to choose, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 150, (1) pp. 42-66. ISSN 0096-3445 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/xge0000770


We propose a dynamic theory of decisions not to choose which of 2 options is correct. Such "do not-know" judgments are of theoretical and practical importance in domains ranging from comparative psychology, psychophysics, episodic memory, and metacognition to applied areas including educational testing and eyewitness testimony. However, no previous theory has provided a detailed quantitative account of the time it takes to make both definitive and do not-know responses and their relative frequencies. We tested our theory, the multiple threshold race (MTR), in 1 recognition memory experiment where participants had to pick a previously studied target out of 2 similar faces and another where targets and lures were tested 1 at a time. In both experiments we manipulated similarity through face morphing. High similarity made decisions difficult, encouraging do not-know responses. We also tested the MTR's ability to account for other manipulations that aimed to affect the speed and probability of do not-know responses, including increasing penalties for making an error (with no penalty for a do not-know response) and emphasizing either response speed or accuracy. We found that there were marked individual differences in do not-know use, and that the MTR was able to account for the intricate pattern of effects associated with our manipulations, both on average and in terms of individual differences. We discuss how estimates of MTR's parameters illuminate the psychological mechanisms that govern the interplay between definitive and do not-know responding.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:metacognition, memory, don't know, MTR, confidence, recognition-memory, cognitive-modeling, evidence accumulator models
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Reynolds, A (Mr Angus Reynolds)
UTAS Author:Garton, R (Mr Roderick Garton)
UTAS Author:Sauer, J (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:140142
Year Published:2021 (online first 2020)
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP200100655)
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2020-07-29
Last Modified:2021-03-16
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