Using Subjective Confidence to Improve Metacognitive Monitoring Accuracy and Control
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Metacognition is defined as a person's awareness of the capabilities and vulnerabilities of their own cognition and also encompasses the actions that a person takes as a result of that awareness. The awareness and actions that a person takes are known as monitoring and control respectively. The relationship between accurate monitoring and improved control and performance has been borne out in multiple research studies. Unfortunately, people's metacognitive judgments are far from perfect; for low performers, that inaccuracy is most often in the form of overconfidence. Attempts to improve metacognitive monitoring and control have led to mixed results. The purpose of the experiments here was to examine whether participants could use confidence in their predictions to recalibrate subsequent performance predictions and to determine if improved metacognitive monitoring would confer benefits to metacognitive control. Would participants become less overconfident and would they then decide to study longer to improve performance? In three experiments, participants made predictions about their upcoming memory performance and reported their confidence that their predictions were accurate. Participants then adjusted their predictions so that they could be more confident the prediction was accurate. Experiment 1 served as a proof of concept ? it established that confidence judgments could be used to improve metacognitive monitoring accuracy. Experiment 2 explored the boundary conditions of the calibration improvement effect. The results revealed that continuous improvement in performance predictions was possible after reporting confidence. And finally, Experiment 3 showed that participants' improved monitoring accuracy did not influence metacognitive control, which in this study was allocation of study time. One possible reason why reporting confidence did not affect metacognitive control was that participants required feedback about the benefits of confidence judgments before the improved calibration effect would influence their decisions to allocate study time. Future research will examine the influence of reporting confidence and other interventions to improve calibration and performance.