Research ArticlePSYCHOLOGY

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

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Science Advances  30 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaaq0668
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0668


Decisions are accompanied by a feeling of confidence, that is, a belief about the decision being correct. Confidence accuracy is critical, notably in high-stakes situations such as medical or financial decision-making. We investigated how incentive motivation influences confidence accuracy by combining a perceptual task with a confidence incentivization mechanism. 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 affect how confidence builds on perceptual evidence. Together, these findings may provide new hints about confidence miscalibration in healthy or pathological contexts.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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