Metacognition across Species

J. David Smith, Mariana V. C. Coutinho, Joseph Boomer and Michael J. Beran

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738182
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Metacognition across Species

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Humans can feel consciously uncertain and know when they do not know. These feelings and the responses to them ground the research literature on metacognition. It is a natural question whether nonhuman animals share this sophisticated cognitive capacity, and, thus, animal metacognition is an active research area within contemporary comparative psychology. This chapter summarizes this research area. We illustrate the area's original studies and describe recent approaches that addressed possible flaws in the original studies. We summarize the current empirical status of the field. We discuss the phylogenetic breadth of metacognition and consider the appropriate psychological interpretation of uncertainty responding by animals. Finally, we discuss the potential for animal metacognition research to reveal the evolutionary emergence of reflective mind more broadly construed.

Keywords: metacognition; uncertainty monitoring; metamemory; comparative cognition; cognitive evolution

Article.  14874 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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