On-line confidence monitoring during decision making

Dror Dotan, Florent Meyniel, Stanislas Dehaene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans can readily assess their degree of confidence in their decisions. Two models of confidence computation have been proposed: post hoc computation using post-decision variables and heuristics, versus online computation using continuous assessment of evidence throughout the decision-making process. Here, we arbitrate between these theories by continuously monitoring finger movements during a manual sequential decision-making task. Analysis of finger kinematics indicated that subjects kept separate online records of evidence and confidence: finger deviation continuously reflected the ongoing accumulation of evidence, whereas finger speed continuously reflected the momentary degree of confidence. Furthermore, end-of-trial finger speed predicted the post-decisional subjective confidence rating. These data indicate that confidence is computed on-line, throughout the decision process. Speed-confidence correlations were previously interpreted as a post-decision heuristics, whereby slow decisions decrease subjective confidence, but our results suggest an adaptive mechanism that involves the opposite causality: by slowing down when unconfident, participants gain time to improve their decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-121
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Accumulation of evidence
  • Confidence
  • Decision making
  • Speed-accuracy trade-off
  • Trajectory tracking


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