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Baptiste Caziot, Pascal Mamassian; Perceptual confidence judgments reflect self-consistency. Journal of Vision 2021;21(12):8. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.12.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Each perceptual decision is commonly attached to a judgment of confidence in the uncertainty of that decision. Confidence is classically defined as the estimate of the posterior probability of the decision to be correct, given the evidence. Here we argue that correctness is neither a valid normative statement of what observers should be doing after their perceptual decision nor a proper descriptive statement of what they actually do. Instead, we propose that perceivers aim at being self-consistent with themselves. We present behavioral evidence obtained in two separate psychophysical experiments that human observers achieve that aim. In one experiment adaptation led to aftereffects, and in the other prior stimulus occurrences were manipulated. We show that confidence judgments perfectly follow changes in perceptual reports and response times, regardless of the nature of the bias. Although observers are able to judge the validity of their percepts, they are oblivious to how biased these percepts are. Focusing on self-consistency rather than correctness leads us to interpret confidence as an estimate of the reliability of one's perceptual decision rather than a distance to an unattainable truth.
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