Research on conversational exchanges shows that people attempt to optimise their responses’ relevance when they definitely know the correct answer (e.g., “What time is it?”). However, such certainty is often unavailable while speakers may still be under social pressure to provide an answer. We investigated how social context influences the informativeness level when answering questions under uncertainty. In three experiments, participants answered difficult general-knowledge questions placed in different social contexts (formal vs. informal). Participants generated their answers, then they were presented with a given context, and decided on the number of alternative responses they wanted to provide (single, with one alternative vs. plural, with several alternatives) and whether the answer should be reported or withheld (report option). Participants reported more answers in the informal context. In the formal context, single answers were preferred, and they were more frequently reported. We conclude that social context influences the level of informativeness in a conversation, affecting achievable accuracy. Our results also show the joint influence of the confidence and the social context on willingness to share information.
The objective was to examine whether the lower accessibility of studied items (Rp-) that follows retrieval practice with studied items from the same category (Rp+; retrieval-induced forgetting) is correctly monitored by our cognitive system. If monitored, lower confidence for Rp- items would be expected which, in turn, would allow the control of the retrieval-induced forgetting through the report option. In Experiment 1 the standard retrieval-practice paradigm with categorised word lists was followed by a recognition test with confidence rating and the option to report or withhold the answer. Accuracy showed retrieval-induced forgetting, but there were no differences in confidence. The report option did not affect retrieval-induced forgetting. The confidence-accuracy dissociation could be due to a correct monitoring of the retrieval-induced forgetting joined with a factor that incorrectly increases confidence for Rp- items. Familiarity with the practised category was proposed as this factor and tested in Experiment 2. Despite presenting the categories more times during the retrieval-practice phase to increase their familiarity, confidence ratings were unaffected. In conclusion, this research suggests that retrieval-induced forgetting was not monitored, giving rise to a confidence-accuracy dissociation