University of Leicester
The persuasive power of knowledge: Testing the confidence heuristic.pdf (399.45 kB)
Download file

The persuasive power of knowledge: Testing the confidence heuristic.

Download (399.45 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-06, 09:35 authored by Briony D. Pulford, Andrew M. Colman, Eike K. Buabang, Eva M. Krockow
According to the confidence heuristic, people are confident when they know they are right, and their confidence makes them persuasive. Previous experiments have investigated the confidence-persuasiveness aspect of the heuristic but not the integrated knowledge-confidence-persuasiveness hypothesis. We report 3 experiments to test the heuristic using incentivized interactive decisions with financial outcomes in which pairs of participants with common interests attempted to identify target stimuli after conferring, only 1 pair member having strong information about the target. Experiment 1, through the use of a facial identification task, confirmed the confidence heuristic. Experiment 2, through the use of geometric shapes as stimuli, elicited a much larger confidence heuristic effect. Experiment 3 found similar confidence heuristic effects through both face-to-face and computer-mediated communication channels, suggesting that verbal rather than nonverbal communication drives the heuristic. Suggesting an answer first was typical of pair members with strong evidence and might therefore be a dominant cue that persuades. Our results establish the confidence heuristic with dissimilar classes of stimuli and through different communication channels.


This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant RES-000-23-0154]; and the Leicester Judgment and Decision Making Endowment Fund [grant RM43G0176] to the first two authors.



Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018, 147 (10), pp. 1431-1444

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/Biological Sciences/Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General


American Psychological Association



Acceptance date


Copyright date


Available date


Publisher version


Data Set Access Study 1 was reported at the 2005 British Psychological Society Conference; the 20th Research Conference on Subjective Probability, Utility, & Decision Making in 2005; the Confidence in Interactive Decisions Symposium, Leicester, United Kingdom in 2005; and, finally, at the Language, Psychology and the Law Conference, University of Leicester, United Kingdom in 2006.



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Publications