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People who cheat on tests accurately predict their performance on future tests

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Abstract

Studies suggest that people who cheat on a test overestimate their performance on future tests. Given that erroneous monitoring of one's own cognitive processes impairs learning and memory, this study investigated whether cheating on a test would harm monitoring accuracy on future tests. Participants had the incentive and opportunity to cheat on one (Experiments 1, 2, and 3, with N = 90, 88, and 102, respectively) or two (Experiment 4, N = 214) of four general-knowledge tests. Cheating produced overconfidence in global-level performance predictions in Experiment 2 (Cohen's d≥ 0.35) but not in Experiments 1 or 4. Also, cheating did not affect the absolute or relative accuracy of item-level performance predictions in Experiments 3 or 4. A Bayesian meta-analysis of all experiments provided evidence against cheating-induced overconfidence in global- and item-level predictions. Overall, our results demonstrate that people who cheat on tests accurately predict their performance on future tests.

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This study evaluated how people learn about encoding strategy effectiveness in an associative memory task. Individuals studied two lists of paired associates under instructions to use either a normatively effective strategy (interactive imagery) or a normatively ineffective strategy (rote repetition) for each pair. Questionnaire ratings of imagery effectiveness increased and ratings of repetition effectiveness decreased after task experience, demonstrating new knowledge about strategy effectiveness. Cued recall confidence judgments, measuring confidence in recall accuracy, were almost perfectly correlated with actual recall and strongly correlated with postdictions - estimates of recall for each strategy. A structural regression model revealed that postdictions mediated both changes in second-list predictions and changes in strategy effectiveness ratings, implicating accurate performance estimates based on item-level monitoring as the key to updating strategy knowledge.
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Many prominent theorists have argued that accurate perceptions of the self, the world, and the future are essential for mental health. Yet considerable research evidence suggests that overly positive self-evaluations, exaggerated perceptions of control or mastery, and unrealistic optimism are characteristic of normal human thought. Moreover, these illusions appear to promote other criteria of mental health, including the ability to care about others, the ability to be happy or contented, and the ability to engage in productive and creative work. These strategies may succeed, in large part, because both the social world and cognitive-processing mechanisms impose filters on incoming information that distort it in a positive direction; negative information may be isolated and represented in as unthreatening a manner as possible. These positive illusions may be especially useful when an individual receives negative feedback or is otherwise threatened and may be especially adaptive under these circumstances.
Metacognition and consciousness
  • Koriat
A comparison of current measures of the accuracy of feeling-of-knowing predictions
  • Nelson