ResearchPad - metacognition Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Choosing what we like vs liking what we choose: How choice-induced preference change might actually be instrumental to decision-making]]> For more than 60 years, it has been known that people report higher (lower) subjective values for items after having selected (rejected) them during a choice task. This phenomenon is coined “choice-induced preference change” or CIPC, and its established interpretation is that of “cognitive dissonance” theory. In brief, if people feel uneasy about their choice, they later convince themselves, albeit not always consciously, that the chosen (rejected) item was actually better (worse) than they had originally estimated. While this might make sense from an intuitive psychological standpoint, it is challenging from a theoretical evolutionary perspective. This is because such a cognitive mechanism might yield irrational biases, whose adaptive fitness would be unclear. In this work, we consider an alternative possibility, namely that CIPC is -at least partially- due to the refinement of option value representations that occurs while people are pondering about choice options. For example, contemplating competing possibilities during a choice may highlight aspects of the alternative options that were not considered before. In the context of difficult decisions, this would enable people to reassess option values until they reach a satisfactory level of confidence. This makes CIPC the epiphenomenal outcome of a cognitive process that is instrumental to the decision. Critically, our hypothesis implies novel predictions about how observed CIPC should relate to two specific meta-cognitive processes, namely: choice confidence and subjective certainty regarding pre-choice value judgments. We test these predictions in a behavioral experiment where participants rate the subjective value of food items both before and after choosing between equally valued items; we augment this traditional design with both reports of choice confidence and subjective certainty about value judgments. The results confirm our predictions and provide evidence that many quantitative features of CIPC (in particular: its relationship with metacognitive judgments) may be explained without ever invoking post-choice cognitive dissonance reduction explanation. We then discuss the relevance of our work in the context of the existing debate regarding the putative cognitive mechanisms underlying CIPC.

<![CDATA[Children’s descriptions of playing and learning as related processes]]>

Many studies have examined children’s understanding of playing and learning as separate concepts, but the ways that children relate playing and learning to one another remain relatively unexplored. The current study asked 5- to 8-year-olds (N = 92) to define playing and learning, and examined whether children defined them as abstract processes or merely as labels for particular types of activities. We also asked children to state whether playing and learning can occur simultaneously, and examined whether they could give examples of playing and learning with attributes either congruent or incongruent with those activities. Older children were more likely to define both playing and learning in terms of abstract processes, rather than by describing particular topics or activities. Children who defined both playing and learning in this way were able to generate more examples of situations where they were simultaneously playing and learning, and were better able to generate examples of learning with characteristics of play, and examples of playing with characteristics of learning. These data suggest that children develop an understanding that learning and playing can coincide. These results are critical to researchers and educators who seek to integrate play and learning, as children’s beliefs about these concepts can influence how they reflect on playful learning opportunities.

<![CDATA[Attitude confidence and source credibility in information foraging with social tags]]>

There is growing concern that online information searchers are overconfident and therefore largely search for information which reinforces their prior attitudes, blinded by confirmation bias. This study tests if this effect can be reduced in content aggregation platforms, when social tag clouds show popular topics among experts. We manipulated (1) confidence in prior attitudes, and (2) the credibility of the expert community that tagged the content. We found that both factors influence navigation in different ways. First, attitude confidence moderated the influence of prior attitudes when choosing how much attitude-consistent content in blog posts to read. When attitude confidence was high, prior attitudes were positively associated with selection of blog posts, when low, not positively associated. After navigation, when confidence was high, the content of attitude-consistent blog posts was more favourably evaluated, whereas when confidence was low, attitude inconsistent blog posts were more favourably evaluated. Second, source credibility moderated the influence of prior attitudes on tag selection. When source credibility was low, prior attitudes did guide tag selection, when high, they did not. With low source credibility, people selected more attitude-consistent content. The findings advance social tagging theories by showing that not only semantic associations, but also attitudes play a role when people select and process tags and related content. The findings also show that credibility and confidence have a different impact on different stages of information selection and evaluation. Whereas credibility is more important when switching among pages, attitude confidence is more important when reading and evaluating the content of one page.

<![CDATA[Post-Decision Wagering Affects Metacognitive Awareness of Emotional Stimuli: An Event Related Potential Study]]>

The present research investigated metacognitive awareness of emotional stimuli and its psychophysiological correlates. We used a backward masking task presenting participants with fearful or neutral faces. We asked participants for face discrimination and then probed their metacognitive awareness with confidence rating (CR) and post-decision wagering (PDW) scales. We also analysed psychophysiological correlates of awareness with event-related potential (ERP) components: P1, N170, early posterior negativity (EPN), and P3. We have not observed any differences between PDW and CR conditions in the emotion identification task. However, the "aware" ratings were associated with increased accuracy performance. This effect was more pronounced in PDW, especially for fearful faces, suggesting that emotional stimuli awareness may be enhanced by monetary incentives. EEG analysis showed larger N170, EPN and P3 amplitudes in aware compared to unaware trials. It also appeared that both EPN and P3 ERP components were more pronounced in the PDW condition, especially when emotional faces were presented. Taken together, our ERP findings suggest that metacognitive awareness of emotional stimuli depends on the effectiveness of both early and late visual information processing. Our study also indicates that awareness of emotional stimuli can be enhanced by the motivation induced by wagering.

<![CDATA[Confidence as a Common Currency between Vision and Audition]]>

The idea of a common currency underlying our choice behaviour has played an important role in sciences of behaviour, from neurobiology to psychology and economics. However, while it has been mainly investigated in terms of values, with a common scale on which goods would be evaluated and compared, the question of a common scale for subjective probabilities and confidence in particular has received only little empirical investigation so far. The present study extends previous work addressing this question, by showing that confidence can be compared across visual and auditory decisions, with the same precision as for the comparison of two trials within the same task. We discuss the possibility that confidence could serve as a common currency when describing our choices to ourselves and to others.

<![CDATA[Investigating the Role of Assessment Method on Reports of Déjà Vu and Tip-of-the-Tongue States during Standard Recognition Tests]]>

Déjà vu and tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) are retrieval-related subjective experiences whose study relies on participant self-report. In four experiments (ns = 224, 273, 123 and 154), we explored the effect of questioning method on reported occurrence of déjà vu and TOT in experimental settings. All participants carried out a continuous recognition task, which was not expected to induce déjà vu or TOT, but were asked about their experiences of these subjective states. When presented with contemporary definitions, between 32% and 58% of participants nonetheless reported experiencing déjà vu or TOT. Changing the definition of déjà vu or asking participants to bring to mind a real-life instance of déjà vu or TOT before completing the recognition task had no impact on reporting rates. However, there was an indication that changing the method of requesting subjective reports impacted reporting of both experiences. More specifically, moving from the commonly used retrospective questioning (e.g. “Have you experienced déjà vu?) to free report instructions (e.g. “Indicate whenever you experience déjà vu.) reduced the total number of reported déjà vu and TOT occurrences. We suggest that research on subjective experiences should move toward free report assessments. Such a shift would potentially reduce the presence of false alarms in experimental work, thereby reducing the overestimation of subjective experiences prevalent in this area of research.

<![CDATA[Performance Feedback Processing Is Positively Biased As Predicted by Attribution Theory]]>

A considerable literature on attribution theory has shown that healthy individuals exhibit a positivity bias when inferring the causes of evaluative feedback on their performance. They tend to attribute positive feedback internally (e.g., to their own abilities) but negative feedback externally (e.g., to environmental factors). However, all empirical demonstrations of this bias suffer from at least one of the three following drawbacks: First, participants directly judge explicit causes for their performance. Second, participants have to imagine events instead of experiencing them. Third, participants assess their performance only after receiving feedback and thus differences in baseline assessments cannot be excluded. It is therefore unclear whether the classically reported positivity bias generalizes to setups without these drawbacks. Here, we aimed at establishing the relevance of attributions for decision-making by showing an attribution-related positivity bias in a decision-making task. We developed a novel task, which allowed us to test how participants changed their evaluations in response to positive and negative feedback about performance. Specifically, we used videos of actors expressing different facial emotional expressions. Participants were first asked to evaluate the actors’ credibility in expressing a particular emotion. After this initial rating, participants performed an emotion recognition task and did—or did not—receive feedback on their veridical performance. Finally, participants re-rated the actors’ credibility, which provided a measure of how they changed their evaluations after feedback. Attribution theory predicts that participants change their evaluations of the actors’ credibility toward the positive after receiving positive performance feedback and toward the negative after negative performance feedback. Our results were in line with this prediction. A control condition without feedback showed that correct or incorrect performance alone could not explain the observed positivity bias. Furthermore, participants’ behavior in our task was linked to the most widely used measure of attribution style. In sum, our findings suggest that positive and negative performance feedback influences the evaluation of task-related stimuli, as predicted by attribution theory. Therefore, our study points to the relevance of attribution theory for feedback processing in decision-making and provides a novel outlook for decision-making biases.

<![CDATA[Theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation to the prefrontal or parietal cortex does not impair metacognitive visual awareness]]>

Neuroimaging studies commonly associate dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and posterior parietal cortex with conscious perception. However, such studies only investigate correlation, rather than causation. In addition, many studies conflate objective performance with subjective awareness. In an influential recent paper, Rounis and colleagues addressed these issues by showing that continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) applied to the DLPFC impaired metacognitive (subjective) awareness for a perceptual task, while objective performance was kept constant. We attempted to replicate this finding, with minor modifications, including an active cTBS control site. Using a between-subjects design for both DLPFC and posterior parietal cortices, we found no evidence of a cTBS-induced metacognitive impairment. In a second experiment, we devised a highly rigorous within-subjects cTBS design for DLPFC, but again failed to find any evidence of metacognitive impairment. One crucial difference between our results and the Rounis study is our strict exclusion of data deemed unsuitable for a signal detection theory analysis. Indeed, when we included this unstable data, a significant, though invalid, metacognitive impairment was found. These results cast doubt on previous findings relating metacognitive awareness to DLPFC, and inform the current debate concerning whether or not prefrontal regions are preferentially implicated in conscious perception.

<![CDATA[Multiple Choice Neurodynamical Model of the Uncertain Option Task]]>

The uncertain option task has been recently adopted to investigate the neural systems underlying the decision confidence. Latterly single neurons activity has been recorded in lateral intraparietal cortex of monkeys performing an uncertain option task, where the subject is allowed to opt for a small but sure reward instead of making a risky perceptual decision. We propose a multiple choice model implemented in a discrete attractors network. This model is able to reproduce both behavioral and neurophysiological experimental data and therefore provides support to the numerous perspectives that interpret the uncertain option task as a sensory-motor association. The model explains the behavioral and neural data recorded in monkeys as the result of the multistable attractor landscape and produces several testable predictions. One of these predictions may help distinguish our model from a recently proposed continuous attractor model.

<![CDATA[Can application and transfer of strategy be observed in low visibility condition?]]>

It has been long assumed that cognitive control processes can only be applied on consciously visible stimuli, but empirical evidence is contradictory. In the present study, we investigated strategic adaptation to conflict both in unmasked and in low-visibility masked trials. Using a paradigm derived from the Stroop task, we studied the application of strategies, but also the transfer of a strategy developed in unmasked trials to masked trials, and the trial-to-trial dynamics of strategic processing. In unmasked trials, we found evidence of strategic adaptation to conflict, both in reaction times and in ERPs (N2 and P300). In masked trials we found no evidence of behavioral adaptation to conflict, but a modulation of the P300 was present in masked trials included in unmasked blocks, suggesting the existence of a transfer of strategy. Finally, trial-to-trial analyses in unmasked trials revealed a pattern suggestive of dynamic subjective adherence to the instructed strategy.

<![CDATA[Explicit Agency in Patients with Cervical Dystonia: Altered Recognition of Temporal Discrepancies between Motor Actions and Their Feedback]]>


Abnormalities in the cognitive processing of movement have been demonstrated in patients with dystonia. The sense of agency, which is the experience of initiating and controlling one’s own actions, has never before been studied in these patients.


We investigated whether the sense of agency is altered in patients with cervical dystonia.


We used an explicit metacognitive agency task in which participants had to catch targets with a cursor by moving a computer’s mouse. The task included several conditions in which the control over the cursor could be disrupted by adding a spatial or a temporal discrepancy between the mouse and the cursor’s movements. Participants had to acknowledge these discrepancies and reflect them in metacognitive judgements of agency.


Twenty cervical dystonia patients and 20 matched controls were included in the study. Despite performing equally well as the matched controls, cervical dystonia patients did not fully recognize alterations of agency when a temporal lag was added between their movement and the visual feedback. Moreover, they relied predominantly on their perceived performance to provide judgements of agency and less on their objective degree of controls. There was no correlation between agency scores and clinical severity of dystonia measured by the Toronto Western Spasmodic Torticollis Rating Scale.


We demonstrated an abnormal processing of agency in cervical dystonia patients, even for motor actions not affected by dystonia. The exact contribution of abnormal agency to dystonia pathophysiology remains to be clarified.

<![CDATA[Judgments of warmth and competence in a computerized paradigm: Little evidence of proposed impression formation asymmetries]]>

Much of what we know concerning impression formation is based on experimental methods where the participant receives a list of traits or behaviors and is asked to make trait judgments or meta-cognitive judgments. The present study aimed to put some well-known effects from the impression formation literature to a test in a more dynamic computerized environment, more akin to many real world impression formation scenarios. In three studies participants were introduced to multiple target persons. They were given information about the target persons’ behavior, one at a time, while making ratings of their warmth and competence, and their probability of performing related behaviors in the future. In neither of the studies the negativity effect of warmth or the positivity effect of competence were reproduced.

<![CDATA[A massive experiment on choice blindness in political decisions: Confidence, confabulation, and unconscious detection of self-deception]]>

We implemented a Choice Blindness Paradigm containing political statements in Argentina to reveal the existence of categorical ranges of introspective reports, identified by confidence and agreement levels, separating easy from very hard to manipulate decisions. CBP was implemented in both live and web-based forms. Importantly, and contrary to what was observed in Sweden, we did not observe changes in voting intentions. Also, confidence levels in the manipulated replies where significantly lower than in non-manipulated cases even in undetected manipulations. We name this phenomenon unconscious detection of self-deception. Results also show that females are more difficult to manipulate than men.

<![CDATA[Metacognitive Confidence Increases with, but Does Not Determine, Visual Perceptual Learning]]>

While perceptual learning increases objective sensitivity, the effects on the constant interaction of the process of perception and its metacognitive evaluation have been rarely investigated. Visual perception has been described as a process of probabilistic inference featuring metacognitive evaluations of choice certainty. For visual motion perception in healthy, naive human subjects here we show that perceptual sensitivity and confidence in it increased with training. The metacognitive sensitivity–estimated from certainty ratings by a bias-free signal detection theoretic approach–in contrast, did not. Concomitant 3Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) was applied in compliance with previous findings on effective high-low cross-frequency coupling subserving signal detection. While perceptual accuracy and confidence in it improved with training, there were no statistically significant tACS effects. Neither metacognitive sensitivity in distinguishing between their own correct and incorrect stimulus classifications, nor decision confidence itself determined the subjects’ visual perceptual learning. Improvements of objective performance and the metacognitive confidence in it were rather determined by the perceptual sensitivity at the outset of the experiment. Post-decision certainty in visual perceptual learning was neither independent of objective performance, nor requisite for changes in sensitivity, but rather covaried with objective performance. The exact functional role of metacognitive confidence in human visual perception has yet to be determined.