Identifying cultural differences in metacognition – van der Plas, E., et al (2022)

2022 | Metacognition | Output
8 Mar, 2022

van der Plas, E., Zhang, S., Dong, K., Bang, D., Li, J., Wright, N.D. & Fleming, S.M.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press


Aspects of human metacognition such as the ability to consciously evaluate our beliefs and decisions are thought to be culturally acquired. However, direct evidence for this claim is lacking. As an initial step towards answering this question, here we examine differences in metacognitive performance between populations matched for occupation (students), income, demographics and general intelligence, but drawn from two distinct cultural milieus (Beijing, China and London, UK).

We show that Chinese participants have heightened metacognitive evaluation of perceptual decision-making task performance in comparison with UK participants. These differences manifested in boosts to post-decisional processing following error trials, de-spite no differences in first-order performance. In a second experiment, we directly replicate these findings and show that a metacognitive advantage generalizes to a new task that replaces post-decision evidence with equivalent social advice. Together, our results are consistent with a proposal that metacognitive capacity is shaped via socio-cultural interactions.