A number of theoretical views are relevant to

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A number of theoretical views are relevant to understanding the rates and meanings of DK responses. The strategic regulation model (Koriat & Goldsmith, 1996) proposes that responding involves monitoring whether the quality of the best candidate response retrieved from memory exceeds a reporting criterion. Within this framework, DK responses that mean ‘present not remembered’ can be understood as coarse grain responses indicating the presence of information. This model only discusses decision-making processes for questions that are perceived as having answers, and hence the place for unanswerable questions and ‘not present’ responses is not apparent. Discrimination between questions that can and cannot be answered, and decision-making about answering questions, rejecting questions, or choosing to say DK are more complex than articulated by this model. Perfect and Weber (2012) make a related argument in an examination of the strategic regulation model in the context of eyewitness lineups. This scenario is also complex, in that respondents must choose to select a response or reject making a report, when sometimes the target is present and sometimes not present. Using decision for
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ENCOURAGING AND CLARIFYING DON’T KNOW RESPONSES… 8 target-present and target-absent lineups (which have some parallels to answerable vs. unanswerable questions), they found that while confidence in best candidate answers did predicts eyewitness decisions to a degree, residual variance in their models indicates that other factors are needed to explain free report eyewitness accuracy. This led them to suggest that memory performance for compound recognition decisions involve more underlying processes than the simple response criterion approach proposed in the strategic regulation model. Other researchers discuss memory for information that has never been learned, and the processes that are invoked when a question is asked but no answer comes to mind. This is termed ‘memory for non-occurrence’ (Strack & Bless, 1994). For example, Kolers and Palef (1976) demonstrated that there are distinct forms of ‘knowing not’ as reflected by relatively quick rejections of items that cannot be known (information about which no information is available) and slower rejections of items that are known to be unknown (when a person is told that a piece of information is not known). Glucksberg and McCloskey (1981) further found that DK responses to questions about unknown information were made more rapidly than to questions about information that was known to be unknown (see also, Klin, Guzman, & Levine, 1997). This shows that some unanswerable questions are rejected rapidly and likely without any search of memory. In other cases, DK responses arise via the slower route of a memory search that fails to identify a response. Strack and Bless (1994) proposed that when information is not located in memory, inferential processes are used to evaluate the diagnosticity of the lack of memory. The outcome determines whether the memory search is continued or whether the question is rejected as unanswerable (see also, Mazzoni & Kirsch, 2001; Singer & Tiede, 2008).
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  • Fall '17
  • Jane Moore
  • Centrifugation, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Fourteen unanswerable questions, dk responses, Alan Scoboria

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