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Why some people fail to ignore overconfident but incompetent advice: Individual differences in weighting the reliability of metacognitive information

Talk by Karsten Olsen, School of Communication and Culture

2018.08.14 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 09 Oct
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312, 8000 Aarhus C


To best reap the benefits of observing others and learning from their actions, we must distinguish the human models that are competent and informative from the ones that would misinform us. However, being able to detect others’ competence or reliability is not sufficient in such a social situation, if we do not also weight the shared information appropriately in accordance with how reliable that individual has been. This ability to weight others’ actions appropriately when socially interacting about a task (toward a shared goal), we refer to as social weighting sensitivity. However, it is not known whether this ability is simply dependent on the given partners that we are facing or whether it can better be characterized as an individual sociocognitive trait. To answer this question, we developed a psychophysical dot-motion task in which we gave participants the opportunity to revise their initial actions after seeing the actions of partners of varying competence. I will present the results which suggest consistent individual differences in the weighting of others opinions across worse and better performing partners. In particular, we observed similar individual differences in the social benefits that were gained from the partner. Moreover, we found that individuals who were objectively underconfident were more likely to be affected by the partner’s opinions, whereas individuals who were overconfident were less likely to listen to their partner. I will hopefully also present some further analyses and preliminary results on how these individual differences are reflected in brain structure. I hope to get some input on the study, the interpretations and ideas for further research (that does not involve Trump supporters). 

About the speaker:

Karsten Olsen
Department for Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Cognitive semiotics &
Interacting Minds Centre