Do you know what you don’t know? The Credence Game

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 10.57.35 PMWant a new and interesting way to kill time? I just discovered the Credence game (also known as the Calibration game or the Confidence game). It asks you trivia questions, and you choose between two answers. But in addition to choosing what you think is the correct response, you have to decide how confident you are in your answer. Are you basically just guessing at random? Or do you KNOW that you are giving the right answer?

After responding to a series of these questions, the game shows you a graph of how confident you were vs how often you were actually correct. I’m showing the graph the program generated for me. The blue bars represent how often I was correct, and the diagonal yellow line represents how confident I was about my answers. Where my blue bars crossed the line, I was overconfident. Where they fell under the line,  I was under-confident. As you can see, most of the time, I’m a pretty good judge of how likely my answers are to be correct. When I say that I’m only 50% confident about something (in other words, I have no idea and I’m just guessing randomly), I get the answer right about 50% of the time.  Things start to fall apart when I’m very sure I know the answer, though. I’m overconfident about being super confident! When I’m 90% sure I know the correct answer, it turns out I’m right only about 70% of the time. Bummer. And this graph is one I got after playing for a while and getting better. Maybe I will think about this the next time I KNOW I’m right about something. Maybe memories of this game will instill a little humility, and I’ll be less likely to dig in my heels and more likely to make an effort to confirm I really am right.

And that’s the goal, I guess–that a game like this can help people become more rational. Presumably, the hope is that if we get better at recognizing when we tend to be over or under-confident in the game, this skill will spill into the rest of our lives and we will become better at making decisions. Playing is pretty addictive! But think your results are likely to actually change your behavior outside the game? I’m not sure. I’d be interested in hearing from other people who have played.

For anyone who wants to give it a try, you can download it here. It just takes a second to install. And here’s an overview of the game by one of the guys who designed it, Andrew Critch.

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