Street, Chris N. H. and Richardson, Daniel C. (2014) Are you hiding something from me? Uncertainty and judgments about the intentions of others. In: CogSci 2014 Proceedings. Annual Cognitive Science Conference . Cognitive Science Society, pp. 1545-1550. ISBN 978-0-9911967-0-8

We are skilled at reading other’s intentions – until they try to hide them. We are biased towards taking at face value what others say, but it is not clear why. One possibility is that we are uncertain, and make the decision by relying on heuristics. Half of our participants judged whether speakers were lying or telling the truth. The other half did not have to commit to a judgment: they were allowed to say they were unsure. We expected these participants would no longer need to rely on simplified heuristics and so show a reduced bias compared to the forced choice condition. Surprisingly, those who could say they were unsure were more biased towards believing people. We consider two possible accounts, both highlighting the importance of examining raters’ uncertainty, which have so far been undocumented. Allowing raters to abstain from judgment gives new insights into the judgment-forming process.

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