Relating inter-individual differences in metacognitive performance on different perceptual tasks

Conscious Cogn. 2011 Dec;20(4):1787-92. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.011. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Human behavior depends on the ability to effectively introspect about our performance. For simple perceptual decisions, this introspective or metacognitive ability varies substantially across individuals and is correlated with the structure of focal areas in prefrontal cortex. This raises the possibility that the ability to introspect about different perceptual decisions might be mediated by a common cognitive process. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether inter-individual differences in metacognitive ability were correlated across two different perceptual tasks where individuals made judgments about different and unrelated visual stimulus properties. We found that inter-individual differences were strongly correlated between the two tasks for metacognitive ability but not objective performance. Such stability of an individual's metacognitive ability across different perceptual tasks indicates a general mechanism supporting metacognition independent of the specific task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult