Animal Metacognition

J. David Smith, Michael J. Beran and Justin J. Couchman

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Animal Metacognition

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



Metacognition refers to the monitoring and control of basic cognitive processes. The presumption is that some minds have a cognitive executive that oversees and regulates thinking and problem solving to evaluate progress and optimize prospects. Comparative psychologists are currently exploring whether nonhuman animals share humans’ capacity for metacognition. Researchers have tested various species in perceptual, memory, and foraging metacognition paradigms. There is a growing consensus that some species may possess a basic metacognitive capacity, though theoretical debate continues. This chapter summarizes the current state of the empirical literature on animal metacognition, discussing the research’s progress to date, remaining empirical challenges and theoretical issues, and the research’s implications for broader issues of reflective mind and cognitive self-regulation in animals and humans.

Keywords: animal metacognition; cognitive self-regulation; animal consciousness; self-awareness

Article.  14485 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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