Space Observer (metacognition)

While you were deciding which coloured aliens there are more of and telling us how confident you are, we were able to study how accurately you were able to ‘introspect’ your own choices, known as metacognition.

What are we studying?

Every time you make a decision you may think whether the choice was the right one. For example, after picking a pizza place to order dinner online you may wonder whether it was the right choice. Whether you think it was the best choice is reflected in your confidence – when you are very certain that you made the right choice (e.g., because you tried all pizza places and you know this is the best), you will be confident in your decision. On the other hand, when you doubt whether that pizza place was the best choice you are less confident. Knowing whether you made the right choice is very important for the future. If you are not confident in your past choices, you may change your mind and choose something else, but if you are very confident you may repeat your choice and order the same pizza again.

In the ‘Space Observer’ game, you were shown planets that had different coloured aliens and you had to decide which ones were more plentiful. Then, you reported how confident you were whether this was the correct choice. We can use your level of confidence as a measure of your ‘metacognitive ability’ and look at how well you can detect if you have made the right choice. We can do this by looking at how your confidence changes after a correct choice compared to an incorrect choice.

Why are we interested in that?

The ability to understand your own choices has been found to develop over childhood and adolescence. In our previous research, we found that metacognitive insights mature from childhood to adolescence. In this study, we would like to explore whether some groups of individuals, such as those affected by mental health problems, differ in their metacognitive insights.

Further reading:

Moses-Payne ME, Habicht J, Bowler A, Steinbeis N & Hauser TU (2020). I know better! Emerging metacognition allows adolescents to ignore false advice. PsyArXiv