hard-easy effect

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A tendency to be overconfident about the correctness of answers to difficult questions and underconfident about answers to easy questions. If respondents have to choose from two possible answers to a series of questions, and if they also give confidence ratings for each answer on a scale from 50 per cent probability of being correct (no better than chance) to 100 per cent, then a comparison of their average confidence ratings with the actual percentages of correct answers usually reveals that they overestimated the percentages of difficult questions answered correctly (the overconfidence effect) and underestimated the percentages of easy questions answered correctly. The phenomenon was first reported by the US psychologists Sarah C. Lichtenstein (born 1933) and Baruch Fischhoff (born 1946) in an article in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Performance in 1977. Also called the discriminability effect or difficulty effect.

Subjects: Psychology.

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