On the Form of ROCs Constructed From Confidence Ratings

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yes-no classification, source memory, confidence ratings tasks, linear & nonlinear receiver operating characteristics, discrete-state & continuous-state models of detection

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A classical question for memory researchers is whether memories vary in an all-or-nothing, discrete manner (e.g., stored vs. not stored, recalled vs. not recalled), or whether they vary along a continuous dimension (e.g., strength, similarity, or familiarity). For yes-no classification tasks, continuous- and discrete-state models predict nonlinear and linear receiver operating characteristics (ROCs), respectively (D. M. Green & J. A. Swets, 1966; N. A. Macmillan & C. D. Creelman, 1991). Recently, several authors have assumed that these predictions are generalizable to confidence ratings tasks (J. Qin, C. L. Raye, M. K. Johnson, & K. J. Mitchell, 2001; S. D. Slotnick, S. A. Klein, C. S. Dodson, & A. P. Shimamura, 2000; and A. P. Yonelinas, 1999). This assumption is shown to be unwarranted by showing that discrete-state ratings models predict both linear and nonlinear ROCs. The critical factor determining the form of the discrete-state ROC is the response strategy adopted by the classifier.

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Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v. 28, issue 2, p. 380-387