2013scoboriafisicojepappdkencouraged.doc

Understanding the meaning of dont know responses

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Understanding the Meaning of Don’t Know Responses
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ENCOURAGING AND CLARIFYING DON’T KNOW RESPONSES… 6 DK responses have been conceptualized in different ways in the literature. For example, Poole and White (1991) suggest that DK responses are a way for interviewees to resist speculation. Roebers and Fernandez (2002) proposed that DK responses are correct when questions have no answer (see also, Waterman, Blades, & Spencer, 2004). Koriat and Goldsmith (1996) argue that DK responses represent the choice to opt out from responding when confidence in a candidate response is insufficient to exceed a response criterion. While these meanings are not mutually exclusive, DK responses clearly can mean different things at different times. Scoboria, Mazzoni, and Kirsch (2008) found that the meanings of DK responses vary within an interview. They queried DK responses made to answerable and unanswerable questions about a videotaped event. They identified three DK response types: (1) the information was not present in the video (hereafter not present ); (2) the information was present but the details requested were not recalled (hereafter present not remembered ); and (3), no answer could be provided (hereafter true DK ). Hence some DK responses reflected opting out, while other responses were statements of knowledge about the event. Recoding these as correct or erroneous resulted in altered accuracy and output rates. These findings led the authors to propose that understanding DK responses requires knowledge of both the objective nature of the information queried (as initially available or unavailable) and the subjective intent of the respondent. The implications for understanding what people know about an event are not trivial. Allowing DK responses and then clarifying their meaning may discourage witnesses from speculating about questions that cannot be answered. This may also aid in obtaining relevant information about the occurrence of information, even when higher grain details are not available. This may also help to prevent problems associated with asking questions that cannot be answered (Beuscher & Roebers, 2005; Pezdek, Lam, & Sperry, 2009; Zaragoza, Payment,
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ENCOURAGING AND CLARIFYING DON’T KNOW RESPONSES… 7 Ackil, Drivdahl, & Beck, 2001). This is because for unanswerable questions, any substantive response other than ‘not present’ is an error. Witnesses likely find it easier to say DK than to directly resist the interviewer by stating that the question cannot be answered. The fact that DK responses convey different meanings suggests that interviewers sometimes misunderstand responses. To the extent that ‘not present’ DK responses are correct, useful information about what was not witnessed might be obtained. Additionally, ‘present not remembered’ statements may convey useful information, even though a response cannot be provided at a sufficiently high grain to answer the exact question (see Goldsmith, Koriat, & Weinberger-Eliezer, 2002, for more on grain size). More research on the types of DK responses is needed to understand the role of DK responses in responding.
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  • Fall '17
  • Jane Moore
  • Centrifugation, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Fourteen unanswerable questions, dk responses, Alan Scoboria

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