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Two sides of the same coin: monetary incentives concurrently improve and bias confidence judgments.

By Maƫl Lebreton, Shari Langdon, Matthijs J. Slieker, Jip S Nooitgedacht, Anna E. Goudriaan, Damiaan Denys, Ruth J. van Holst, Judy Luigjes

Posted 10 Jan 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/099382 (published DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0668)

Decisions are accompanied by a feeling of confidence, i.e., a belief about the decision being correct. Confidence accuracy is critical, notably in high-stakes situations such as medical or financial decision-making. Here, we investigated how incentive motivation influences confidence accuracy by combining a perceptual task with a confidence incentivization mechanism. Importantly, by varying the magnitude and valence (gains or losses) of monetary incentives, we orthogonalized their motivational and affective components. Corroborating theories of rational decision-making and motivation, our results first reveal that the motivational value of incentives improves aspects of confidence accuracy. However, in line with a value-confidence interaction hypothesis we further show that the affective value of incentives concurrently biases confidence reports, thus degrading confidence accuracy. Finally, we demonstrate that the motivational and affective effects of incentives differentially impact how confidence builds on perceptual evidence. Altogether, these findings may provide new hints about confidence miscalibration in healthy or pathological contexts.

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