Confidence and cognitive test performance

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This article examines the nature of confidence in relation to abilities, personality, and metacognition. Confidence scores were collected during the administration of Reading and Listening sections of the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) to 824 native speakers of English. Those confidence scores were correlated with performance accuracy scores from the TOEFL iBT and SAT, high school grade point averages (HS-GPA), and measures of personality and metacognition. The results of factor analyses indicate that confidence is a separate psychological trait, somewhere between ability and personality. The findings also suggest that confidence is related to, but separate from, metacognition. Gender and ethnic differences in confidence are also reported, with men and African Americans showing higher overconfidence bias than women and Whites or Hispanics, respectively. Finally, the data show small incremental validity of the confidence scores above and beyond the accuracy scores in predicting performance on the TOEFL iBT as a whole, the Writing and Speaking sections of the TOEFL iBT, and a test of numeracy. Confidence does not show incremental validity for the SAT and HS-GPA.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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