Beliefs About a Speaker Affect Feeling of Another's Knowing

Abstract

People's estimations of how certain speakers are of their knowledge (FOAK) match speakers' own estimation (FOK) of how certain they are (Brennan & Williams, 1995). This is because others can interpret the verbal and nonverbal cues of (un)certainty that a speaker displays (Brennan & Williams, 1995; Swerts & Krahmer, 2005). Estimating another's certainty thus seems to be driven by the bottom-up processing of speaker-displayed cues. In this paper, we explore the top-down influence of beliefs about a speaker on judgments of a speaker's certainty. In a perception study, we varied whether a speaker's proclaimed profession would make him an expert or a novice on the topic he was questioned on. Such beliefs were shown to influence participants' ratings of the speaker's certainty, in addition to speaker-displayed cues. Thus, next to the bottom-up processing of speaker-displayed cues, the top-down processing of beliefs about a speaker influences judgments of others' certainty.


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