The small number of true dk responses indicate

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The small number of “true DK” responses indicate instances in which individuals could not confidently provide any information. This finding may be due to an inability to decide if lack of memory indicates the information was not available, or it may reflect that multiple candidate answers were identified without sufficient information to discriminate amongst them. 1 When no instructions were provided about DK responding, participants tended to respond in a manner similar to those who were discouraged from making DK responses. This is consistent with the argument that people possess an implicit belief that informative responses are desired (Smith & Clark, 1993). This was not due to a lack of awareness that questions could be rejected. Participants rejected questions during initial questioning, and at similar rates across the groups. This suggests that people assume that responses are expected above some acceptable rejection rate, after which they provide responses rather than appear uninformative. These findings indicate that initial spontaneous rejections are less susceptible to social
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ENCOURAGING AND CLARIFYING DON’T KNOW RESPONSES… 20 influence than are DK responses. It may be that initial rejections are analogous to other fast rejections of non-occurring information discussed in the literature (Glucksberg & McCloskey, 1981), which appear to be based on relatively automatic cognitive processes. Such quick rejections of cues tend to produce a strong sense of non-occurrence and hence should be less influenced by instructions about the permissibility of DK statements. Participants may view such early ‘not present’ statements as declarative factual statements rather than as DK responses. While further research is needed to evaluate these assertions, these findings provide evidence that the initial and clarified rejections were based in different processes. Following the delay in Study 2, controls did exercise the DK option more than those who were discouraged, but only for answerable questions. This is likely due to belief that memory declined across the delay. Perhaps if the delay were longer, the control group would become more similar to the encouraged group. Unanswerable questions did not show this pattern; in both studies, only encouraged individuals showed more DK responses and fewer errors for unanswerable questions. This shows that the criterion shift argument proposed in the strategic regulation model explains responding to answerable questions better than responding to unanswerable questions. This also suggests that forgetting occurs at different rates for present and non-present information. This is interesting because the rejection of plausible non-occurring information presumably requires what was present to be represented in memory.
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  • Fall '17
  • Jane Moore
  • Centrifugation, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Fourteen unanswerable questions, dk responses, Alan Scoboria

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