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The Feeling of Another Person’s Knowing

By Anthony Jameson, Thomas O. Nelson, R. J. Leonesio, and Louis Narens (1993)

Journal of Memory and Language, 32, 320–335.


We investigated whether predictions about the currently unrecallable knowledge that a person possesses (a) are facilitated by that person’s privileged access to nonobservable information and (b) are influenced by aspects of his or her behavior that can also be observed by another person. A total of 106 target subjects (a) attempted to answer general information questions, (b) predicted which of the unanswered items they would be most likely to recognize, and (c) took a multiple-choice test on the items. The recognition performance of each of these target subjects was also predicted by an observer, who had watched the target’s recall attempts, and by a judge, who had virtually no information about the target. The targets predicted more accurately than the observers, who were in turn more accurate than the judges. The predictions of the targets and the observers were related to three cues in the targets’ behavior: (a) type of recall failure (omission error vs commission error) , (b) latency of omission errors, and (c) plausibility of commission errors.