Evidence for metacognitive bias in perception of voluntary action

Cognition. 2020 Jan;194:104041. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104041. Epub 2019 Aug 27.


Studies of metacognition often measure confidence in perceptual decisions. Much less is known about metacognition of action, and specifically about how people estimate the success of their own actions. In the present study, we compare metacognitive abilities between voluntary actions, passive movements matched to those actions, and purely visual signals. Participants reported their confidence in judging whether a brief visual probe appeared ahead or behind of their finger during simple flexion/extension movement. The finger could be moved voluntarily, or could be moved passively by a robot replaying their own previous movements. In a third condition, participants did not move, but a visual cursor replayed their previous voluntary movements. Metacognitive sensitivity was comparable when judging active movements, during passive finger displacement and visual cursor reply. However, a progressive metacognitive bias was found, with active movements leading to overconfidence in first-level judgement relative to passive movements, at equal levels of actual evidence. Further, both active and passive movements produced overconfidence relative to visual signals. Taken together, our results may partly explain some of the peculiarities that arise when one judges one's own actions.

Keywords: Action; Confidence; Metacognition; Volition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't