Metacognition and mindreading: one or two functions?

Joëlle Proust

in Foundations of Metacognition

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646739
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745867 | DOI:
Metacognition and mindreading: one or two functions?

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Given disagreements about the architecture of the mind, the nature of self-knowledge, and its epistemology, the question of how to understand the function and scope of metacognition — the control of one’s cognition — is still a matter of hot debate. A dominant view, the self-ascriptive view (or one-function view), has been that metacognition necessarily requires representing one’s own mental states as mental states, and, therefore, necessarily involves an ability to read one’s own mind. The self-evaluative view (or two-function view), in contrast, takes metacognition to involve a procedural form of knowledge that is generated by actually engaging in a first-order cognitive task, and monitoring its success. The comparative and developmental arguments supporting, respectively, each of these views are discussed in the light of Hampton’s operational definition of metacognition. New arguments are presented in favour of the two-function view. Recent behavioural and neuroscientific evidence suggests that metacognitive assessment relies on dedicated implicit mechanisms, which are wholly independent, and indeed dissociable, from theory-based self-attribution. The two-function view is claimed to be the best interpretation of these findings.

Keywords: procedural metacognition; self-ascription; self-evaluation; adaptive accumulators; mindreading; unconscious heuristics; neural correlates

Chapter.  10535 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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