Consciousness and Cognition 21 (4):1599-1616 (2012)

Philosophers commonly define knowledge as justified true beliefs. A heated debate exists, however, about what makes a belief justified. In this article, we examine the question of belief justification from a psychological perspective, focusing on the subjective confidence in a belief that the person has just formed. Participants decided whether to accept or reject a proposition depicting a social belief, and indicated their confidence in their choice. The task was repeated six times, and choice latency was measured. The results were analyzed within a Self-Consistency Model of subjective confidence. According to SCM, the decision to accept or reject a proposition is based on the on-line sampling of representations from a pool of representations associated with the proposition. Respondents behave like intuitive statisticians who infer the central tendency of a population based on a small sample. Confidence depends on the consistency with which the belief was supported across the sampled representations, and reflects the likelihood that a new sample will yield the same decision. The results supported the assumption of a commonly shared population of representations associated with each proposition. Based on this assumption, analyses of within-person consistency and cross-person consensus provided support for the model. As expected, choices that deviated from the person’s own modal judgment or from the consensually held judgment took relatively longer to form and were associated with relatively lower confidence, presumably because they were based on non-representative samples. The results were discussed in relation to major epistemological theories – foundationalism, coherentism and reliabilism
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2012.08.008
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,159
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
Alief and Belief.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):634-663.

View all 50 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Self-Consistency Model of Subjective Confidence.Asher Koriat - 2012 - Psychological Review 119 (1):80-113.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Epistemology of Belief.Hamid Vahid - 2009 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
Foundationalism and the External World.Laurence BonJour - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13:229-249.
Do Beliefs Supervene on Degrees of Confidence.Luc Bovens - 1999 - In Anthonie W. M. Meijers (ed.), Belief, Cognition, and the Will. Tilburg University Press. pp. 6--27.
Scientific Realism, Perceptual Beliefs, and Justification.Richard Otte - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:393 - 404.
Truth as the Aim of Epistemic Justification.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2013 - In Timothy Chan (ed.), The Aim of Belief. Oxford University Press.
Dynamic Beliefs and the Passage of Time.Darren Bradley - 2013 - In A. Capone & N. Feit (eds.), Attitudes De Se. University of Chicago.
Swinburne and Plantinga on Internal Rationality.Alvin Plantinga - 2001 - Religious Studies 37 (3):357-358.
A Localist Solution to the Regress of Epistemic Justification.Adam Leite - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (3):395 – 421.
Religious Beliefs and Aspect Seeing.N. K. Verbin - 2000 - Religious Studies 36 (1):1-23.


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #617,896 of 2,454,835 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,241 of 2,454,835 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes