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Foundations of Metacognition$
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Michael J. Beran, Johannes Brandl, Josef Perner, and Joëlle Proust

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646739

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646739.001.0001

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MiniMeta: in search of minimal criteria for metacognition

MiniMeta: in search of minimal criteria for metacognition

(p.94) Chapter 6 MiniMeta: in search of minimal criteria for metacognition
Foundations of Metacognition

Josef Perner

Oxford University Press

This chapter scrutinizes the rich pool of behavioural measures of metacognition used with animals for devising new procedures that do not depend on verbalizing mental states for assessing metacognition in young children and infants. To help select the optimal methods I formulated two conceptual problems besetting the metacognitive interpretation of behavioural data: (1) does the critical behaviour depend only on the animal’s cognitive ability to be in a particular mental state or does it depend on the animal’s metacognitive awareness of being in that state? (2) Does the critical behaviour really depend on recognizing being in a particular mental state (e.g. being disgusted, being uncertain) or is it dependent only on typically confounded external conditions eliciting these states (e.g. facing something disgusting, facing a difficult task)? The assessment concludes that no single task can unambiguously answer these questions. This chapter's contribution to devising behavioural tests of metacognition for children consists only in formulating my two problems and setting the bar of criteria for future investigations.

Keywords:   metacognition, animals, children, awareness, mental states, comparative psychology, developmental psychology, behaviour, learning

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