Metacognition is often defined as thinking about thinking. It is exemplified in all the activities through which one tries to predict and evaluate one’s own mental dispositions, states and properties for their cognitive adequacy. This article discusses the view that metacognition has metarepresentational structure. Properties such as causal contiguity, epistemic transparency and procedural reflexivity are present in metacognition but missing in metarepresentation, while open-ended recursivity and inferential promiscuity only occur in metarepresentation. It is concluded that, although metarepresentations (...) can redescribe metacognitive contents, metacognition and metarepresentation are functionally distinct. (shrink)
Researchers have begun to explore animals' capacities for uncertainty monitoring and metacognition. This exploration could extend the study of animal self-awareness and establish the relationship of self-awareness to other-awareness. It could sharpen descriptions of metacognition in the human literature and suggest the earliest roots of metacognition in human development. We summarize research on uncertainty monitoring by humans, monkeys, and a dolphin within perceptual and metamemory tasks. We extend phylogenetically the search for metacognitive capacities by considering studies that (...) have tested less cognitively sophisticated species. By using the same uncertainty-monitoring paradigms across species, it should be possible to map the phylogenetic distribution of metacognition and illuminate the emergence of mind. We provide a unifying formal description of animals' performances and examine the optimality of their decisional strategies. Finally, we interpret animals' and humans' nearly identical performances psychologically. Low-level, stimulus-based accounts cannot explain the phenomena. The results suggest granting animals a higher-level decision-making process that involves criterion setting using controlled cognitive processes. This conclusion raises the difficult question of animal consciousness. The results show that animals have functional features of or parallels to human conscious cognition. Remaining questions are whether animals also have the phenomenal features that are the feeling/knowing states of human conscious cognition, and whether the present paradigms can be extended to demonstrate that they do. Thus, the comparative study of metacognition potentially grounds the systematic study of animal consciousness. Key Words: cognition; comparative cognition; consciousness; memory monitoring; metacognition; metamemory; self-awareness; uncertainty; uncertainty monitoring. (shrink)
Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition (...) and metacognition are part of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students' ability to comprehend documents and 'plan' the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve 'the proximal zone of planning' - the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience. (shrink)
Two main theories about metacognition are reviewed, each of which claims to provide a better explanation of this phenomenon, while discrediting the other theory as inappropriate. The paper claims that in order to do justice to the complex phenomenon of metacognition, we must distinguish two levels of this capacity—each having a different structure, a different content and a different function within the cognitive architecture. It will be shown that each of the reviewed theories has been trying to explain (...) only one of the two levels and that, consequently, the conflict between them can be dissolved. The paper characterizes the high-level as a rationalizing level where the subject uses concepts and theories to interpret her own behavior and the low-level as a controlling level where the subject exploits epistemic feelings to adjust her cognitive activities. Finally, the paper explores three kinds of interaction between the levels. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences have been construed either as representational mental states—Representationalism—or as direct mental relations to the external world—Disjunctivism. Both conceptions are critical reactions to the so-called ‘Argument from Hallucination’, according to which perceptions cannot be about the external world, since they are subjectively indiscriminable from other, hallucinatory experiences, which are about sense-data ormind-dependent entities. Representationalism agrees that perceptions and hallucinations share their most specific mental kind, but accounts for hallucinations as misrepresentations of the external world. According to Disjunctivism, the phenomenal (...) character of perceptions is exhausted by worldly objects and features, and thus must be different from the phenomenal character of hallucinations. Disjunctivism claims that subjective indiscriminability is not the result of a common experiential ground, but is because of our inability to discriminate, from the inside, hallucinations from perceptions. At first sight, Representationalism is more congenial to the way cognitive science deals with perception. However, empirically oriented revisions of Disjunctivism could be developed and tested by giving a metacognitive account of hallucinations. Two versions of this account can be formulated, depending on whether metacognition is understood as explicit metarepresentation or as implicit monitoring of first-order informational states. The first version faces serious objections, but the second is more promising, as it embodies a more realistic view of perceptual phenomenology as having both sensory and affective aspects. Affectbased phenomenology is constituted by various metacognitive feelings, such as the feeling of being perceptually confronted with the world itself, rather than with pictures or mere representations. (shrink)
The author claims that concept possession is not only necessary but also sufficient for self-consciousness, where self-consciousness is understood as the awareness of oneself as a self. Further, he links concept possession to intelligent behavior. His ultimate aim is to provide a framework for the study of self-consciousness in infants and non-human animals. I argue that the claim that all concepts are necessarily related to the self-concept remains unconvincing and suggest that what might be at issue here are not so (...) much conceptual but rather metacognitive abilities. (shrink)
Given disagreements about the architecture of the mind, the nature of self-knowledge, and its epistemology, the question of how to understand the function and scope of metacognition – the control of one's cognition - is still a matter of hot debate. A dominant view, the self-ascriptive view (or one-function view), has been that metacognition necessarily requires representing one's own mental states as mental states, and, therefore, necessarily involves an ability to read one's own mind. The self-evaluative view (or (...) two-function view), in contrast, takes metacognition to involve a procedural form of knowledge that is generated by actually engaging in a first-order cognitive task, and monitoring its success. The comparative and developmental arguments supporting, respectively, each of these views are discussed in the light of Hampton's operational definition of metacognition. New arguments are presented in favor of the two-function view. Recent behaviorial and neuroscientific evidence suggests that metacognitive assessment relies on dedicated implicit mechanisms, which are wholly independent, and indeed dissociable, from theory-based self-attribution. The two-function view is claimed to be the best interpretation of these findings. (shrink)
SHORT ABSTRACT: A number of accounts of the relationship between third-person mindreading and first-person metacognition are compared and evaluated. While three of these accounts endorse the existence of introspection for propositional attitudes, the fourth (defended here) claims that our knowledge of our own attitudes results from turning our mindreading capacities upon ourselves. The different types of theory are developed and evaluated, and multiple lines of evidence are reviewed, including evolutionary and comparative data, evidence of confabulation when self-attributing attitudes, phenomenological (...) evidence of “unsymbolized thinking”, data from schizophrenia, and data from autism. (shrink)
Kentridge and Heywood (this issue) extend the concept of metacognition to include unconscious processes. We acknowledge the possible contribution of unconscious processes, but favor a central role of awareness in metacognition. We welcome Shimamura's (this issue) extension of the concept of metacognitive regulation to include aspects of working memory, and its relation to executive attention.
Controlling one's mental agency encompasses two forms of metacognitive operations, self-probing and post-evaluating. Metacognition so defined might seem to fuel an internalist view of epistemic norms, where rational feelings are available to instruct a thinker of what she can do, and allow her to be responsible for her mental agency. Such a view, however, ignores the dynamics of the mind–world interactions that calibrate the epistemic sentiments as reliable indicators of epistemic norms. A 'brain in the lab' thought experiment suggests (...) that an internalist view of epistemic feelings is unable to account for the contrast between norm-tracking, educated sentiments, and illusory feelings. (shrink)
Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition (...) and metacognition are part of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students’ ability to comprehend documents and ‘plan’ the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve ‘the proximal zone of planning’ – the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience. (shrink)
The relationship between metacognition and executive control is explored. According to an analysis by Fernandez-Duque, Baird, and Posner (this issue), metacognitive regulation involves attention, conflict resolution, error correction, inhibitory control, and emotional regulation. These aspects of metacognition are presumed to be mediated by a neural circuit involving midfrontal brain regions. An evaluation of the proposal by Fernandez-Duque et al. is made, and it is suggested that there is considerable convergence of issues associated with metacognition, executive control, working (...) memory, and frontal lobe function. By integrating these domains and issues, significant progress could be made toward a cognitive neuroscience of metacognition. (shrink)
The field of metacognition, richly sampled in the book under review, is recognized as an important and growing branch of psychology. However, the field stands in need of a general theory that (1) provides a unified framework for understanding the variety of metacognitive processes, (2) articulates the relation between metacognition and consciousness, and (3) tells us something about the form of meta-level representations and their relations to object-level representations. It is argued that the higher-order thought theory of consciousness (...) supplies us with the rudiments of a theory that meets these desiderata and integrates the principal findings reported in this collection. (shrink)
Because there is a fair amount of overlap in the points by Balog and Rey, I will organize this response topically, referring speciﬁcally to each commentator as rele- vant. And, because much of the discussion focuses on my higher-order-thought (HOT) hypothesis independent of questions about metacognition, I will begin by addressing a cluster of issues that have to do with the status, motivation, and exact formulation of that hypothesis.
Against the view that metacognition is a capacity that parallels theory of mind, it is argued that metacognition need involve neither metarepresentation nor semantic forms of reflexivity, but only process-reflexivity, through which a task-specific system monitors its own internal feedback by using quantitative cues. Metacognitive activities, however, may be redescribed in metarepresentational, mentalistic terms in species endowed with a theory of mind.
The central question underlying this study was whether metacognition training could enhance the two metacognition components—knowledge and skills—and the mathematical problem-solving capacities of normal children in grade 3. We also investigated whether metacognitive training had a differential effect according to the children's mathematics level. A total of 48 participants took part in this study, divided into an experimental and a control group, each subdivided into a lower and a normal achievers group. The training programme took an interactive approach (...) in accordance with Schraw's (1998) recommendation and was carried out over five training sessions. Results indicated that children in the training group had significantly higher post-test metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive skills, and mathematical problem-solving scores. In addition, metacognitive training was particularly beneficial to the low achievers. Thus metacognitive training enabled the low achievers to make progress and solve the same number of problems on the post-test as the normal achievers solved on the pre-test. (shrink)
Smith et al.'s article provides a convincing argument for devoting increased research attention to comparative metacognition. However, this increased attention should be complemented with establishing links with comparative theory of mind (ToM) research, which are currently missing. I present a task in which pairs of subjects are presented with incomplete information in an object-choice situation that could be used to establish that link.
Only two of the many experiments described by Smith et al., as indicating metacognitive ability in nonhuman animals, involved metacognition as understood in the human literature. Of these, one gave negative results. In the other, one of two rhesus monkeys provided data suggesting that he might have metacognitive ability. The conjecture that any nonhuman animals have metacognitive ability is, therefore, tenuous.
Metacognition is either direct, as when information is recalled before making a confidence judgment, or indirect, as when the probability of successful future retrieval is determined inferentially. Direct metacognition may require an explicit mental representation as its object and can only be demonstrated under specific experimental circumstances. Other forms of metacognition can be based on publicly observable stimuli rather than introspection.
Smith et al. demonstrate the viability of animal metacognition research. We commend their effort and suggest three avenues of research. The first concerns whether animals are explicitly aware of their metacognitive processes. The second asks whether animals have metaknowledge of their own uncertain responses. The third issue concerns the monitoring/control distinction. We suggest some ways in which these issues elucidate metacognitive processes in nonhuman animals.
Carruthers argues that there is no developmental or clinical evidence that metacognition is dissociable from mindreading, and hence there is no reason to think that metacognition is prior to mindreading. A closer look at the evidence, however, reveals that these conclusions are premature at best.
Real agents rely, when forming their beliefs, on imperfect informational sources (sources which deliver, even under normal conditions of operation, both accurate and inaccurate information). They therefore face the ‘endorsement problem’: how can beliefs produced by endorsing information received from imperfect sources be formed in an epistemically acceptable manner? Focussing on the case of episodic memory and drawing on empirical work on metamemory, this article argues that metacognition likely plays a crucial role in explaining how agents solve the endorsement (...) problem. (shrink)
The target authors make a strong case for parallels between human and nonhuman metacognition. The case may be bolstered by an appeal to the literatures on commitment and self-control and to that on observing behavior.
This paper is an adaptation of a paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in August 1998. It reports on a study on reading pedagogy and metacognition in six classrooms in Leeds and six classrooms in Dublin. The evidence is based on 12 teacher interviews, 43 separate lesson observations and school/class, policy/lesson documents. The paper analyses the teachers' thinking and their classroom practices with reference to inter-related themes, tasks, texts and contexts, and it (...) draws out the implications for the development of metacognitive awareness among the g-year-old children that these teachers reach. It attempts to explain practice with reference to teachers' conceptions of teaching, the learner and reading. (shrink)
It is tempting to assume that metacognitive processes necessarily evoke awareness. We review a number of experiments in which cognitive schema have been shown to develop without awareness. Implicit learning of a novel schema may not involve metacognitive regulation per se. Substitution of one automatic process by another as a result of the inadequacy of the former as circumstances change does, however, clearly involve metacognitive and executive processes of error correction and schema selection. We describe a recently published study in (...) which we serendipitously discovered that a blindsight subject could change the schema with which he processed cue information in orienting spatial attention task without reporting any awareness of this change, or of the cues and targets which respectively directed and were the object his attention. (shrink)
In this rejoinder we clarify several issues raised by the commentators with the hope of resolving some disagreements. In particular, we address the distinction between information-based and experience-based metacognitive judgments and the idea that memory monitoring may be mediated by direct access to internal representations. We then examine the possibility of unconscious metacognitive processes and expand on the critical role that conscious metacognitive feelings play in mediating between unconscious activations and explicit-controlled action. Finally, several open questions are articulated for further (...) scrutiny. (shrink)
Metacognitive attitudes can affect behavior but do they do so, as Koriat claims, because they enhance voluntary control? This Commentary makes a case for saying that metacognitive consciousness may enhance not control but subjective predictability and may be best studied by examining not just healthy, well-integrated cognizers, but victims of multilevel mental disorders.
Smith et al. present us with a false dichotomy in explaining their uncertainty data: Either the animals' responses are “under the associative control of stimulus cues,” or the animals must be responding “under the metacognitive control of uncertainty cues.” There is a third alternative to consider: one that is genuinely cognitive, neither associative nor stimulus driven, but purely first-order in character. On this alternative the metacognitive reports of humans in these situations reflect states that are interpretative rather than causal in (...) character. (shrink)
C. Theses: 1. Content Externalism strictly implies the possibility of acquiring a new concept as the result of an unwitting switch of environments. 2. This intuitively compels us to accept the possibility of someone possessing a concept without being aware that she does. 3. This possibility strictly favors causal models of meta-cognition over constitution models. 4. The possibility of possessing a concept unawares suggests that the contents of metacognitive.
Metacognitive knowledge of one's own cognitive states is not as useful as is often thought. Differences between cognitive states often come down to differences in their intentional contents. For that reason, differences in behaviour are often explained by differences just in contents of first-order states. Uncertainty need not be a metacognitive condition. First-order interpretations of the target experiments are available.
The authors' attempt to explore the ability of animals to monitor how certain they are of their choice behavior, necessarily fails both in their effort to include “higher” mammals (such as monkeys and dolphins) in the class of metacognitive organisms (humans) and in their conclusion that “lower” organisms are not capable of similar behavior.
Barsalou's theory of perceptual symbol systems is considered from a metacognitive perspective. Two examples are discussed in terms of the proposed perceptual symbol theory. First, recent results in research on feeling-of-knowing judgement are used to argue for a representation of familiarity with input cues. This representation should support implicit memory. Second, the ability of maintaining a theory of other people's beliefs (theory of mind) is considered and it is suggested that a purely simulation-based view is insufficient to explain the available (...) evidence. Both examples characterize areas where Barsalou's theory would benefit from additional detail. (shrink)
In this commentary, we raise two issues. First, we argue that in any species, the comparative study of metacognitive abilities must be approached from a developmental perspective and not solely from the adult end state. This makes it possible to explore the trajectories by which different species reach their phenotypic outcome and whether different cognitive systems interact over developmental time. Second, using our research comparing different genetic disorders in humans, we challenge the authors' claim that it is unparsimonious to interpret (...) the same performance in humans and animals in qualitatively different ways, because even the same overt behaviour in different groups of humans can be sustained by different underlying cognitive processes. (shrink)
What entitles you to rely on information received from others? What entitles you to rely on information retrieved from your own memory? Intuitively, you are entitled simply to trust yourself, while you should monitor others for signs of untrustworthiness. This article makes a case for inverting the intuitive view, arguing that metacognitive monitoring of oneself is fundamental to the reliability of memory, while monitoring of others does not play a significant role in ensuring the reliability of testimony.
Knowledge of one's own states of mind is one of the varieties of self-knowledge. Do any nonhuman animals have the capacity for this variety of self-knowledge? The question is open to empirical inquiry, which is most often conducted with primate subjects. Research with a bottlenose dolphin gives some evidence for the capacity in a nonprimate taxon. I describe the research and evaluate the metacognitive interpretation of the dolphin's behaviour. The research exhibits some of the difficulties attached to the task of (...) eliciting behaviour that both attracts a higher-order interpretation while also resisting deflationary, lower-order interpretations. Lloyd Morgan's Canon, which prohibits inflationary interpretations of animal behaviour, has influenced many animal psychologists. There is one defensible version of the Canon, the version that warns specifically against unnecessary intentional ascent. The Canon on this interpretation seems at first to tell against a metacognitive interpretation of the data collected in the dolphin study. However, the model of metacognition that is in play in the dolphin studies is a functional model, one that does not implicate intentional ascent. I explore some interpretations of the dolphin's behaviour as metacognitive, in this sense. While this species of metacognitive interpretation breaks the connection with the more familiar theory of mind research using animal subjects, the interpretation also points in an interesting way towards issues concerning consciousness in dolphins. (shrink)
Recent studies have shown that schizophrenia may be a disease affecting the states of consciousness. The present study is aimed at investigating metamemory, i.e., the knowledge about one's own memory capabilities, in patients with schizophrenia. The accuracy of the Confidence level (CL) in the correctness of the answers provided during a recall phase, and the predictability of the Feeling of Knowing (FOK) when recall fails were measured using a task consisting of general information questions and assessing semantic memory. Nineteen outpatients (...) were paired with 19 control subjects with respect to age, sex, and education. Results showed that patients with schizophrenia exhibited an impaired semantic memory. CL ratings as well as CL and FOK accuracy were not significantly different in the schizophrenic and the control groups. However, FOK ratings were significantly reduced for the patient group, and discordant FOK judgments were also observed more frequently. Such results suggest that FOK judgments are impaired in patients with schizophrenia, which confirms that schizophrenia is an illness characterized by an impaired conscious awareness of one's own knowledge. (shrink)
What is a person, and how can a person come to know that she is a person identical to herself over time ? The article defends the view that the sense of being oneself in this sense consists in the ability to consciously affect oneself : in the memory of having affected oneself, joint to the consciousness of being able to affect oneself again. In other words, being a self requires a capacity for metacognition (control and monitoring of one's (...) own internal states). This view is compatible with the hypothesis that the self is a dynamic representation emerging out of a higher level control system, - valuation control - whose articulation with control of plans and perceptual/motor control is discussed in the context of normal and pertrubed agency. (shrink)