Over/Under Confidence: Effects of Culture and Number of Options

Bruce BurnsUniversity of Sydney
Luming LuoUniversity of Sydney


Greater over-confidence in answers to multiple choice general knowledge questions has been found for people in East Asian countries compared to English-speaking countries. A drawback of this research is difficulty in establishing the equivalence of samples across countries, so we compared students at the same university whose first language was either East Asian, English, or Other. Our earlier research using Chinese speaking students suggested under-confidence; however we had presented questions with four response options rather than two. Therefore here we also manipulated the number of response options. We found that the East Asian group consistently performed worse at a given level of confidence than the other groups, but that they displayed under rather than over-confidence for 4-option items. Thus our results were consistent with findings of greater confidence for people with East Asian roots, but whether this manifests as over-confidence, under-confidence, or better calibration could depend on the question’s structure.


Over/Under Confidence: Effects of Culture and Number of Options (161 KB)

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