Abstract (Flavell, 1976). The origins of this

  AbstractMetacognitionis the process of thinking about thinking. Previous studies suggested there is somelink between metacognition and reactivity, and the current study aims tofurther the research to determine the extent to which metacognitive evaluationsaffects participants’ reactivity. The current study had participants performRaven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM, Raven and Court, 1998), consisting of threeconditions: confidence rating condition, priming condition and the controlcondition.

The results showed that there was a significantly higher performancein the two groups where reactivity was involved (p = .032, .045). Animprovement to this study could be made by incorporating a large random sampleto increase variety and validity of research. Metacognition isthe idea of “cognition about cognition”, or consciously thinking about ourcognitive processes (Flavell, 1976). The origins of this concept lead back tothe Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 – 322BC), but was officially labelled byAmerican developmental psychologist, John H.

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Flavell (1976). He used this idea tostudy the knowledge and cognitive awareness of children. The “Raven’sProgressive Matrices” or RPM, first developed by J. C. Raven (1936), provided anonverbal evaluation of intelligence through assessing participants’ visualreasoning. The current research presents to the participants a revised versionof the RPM (Raven & Court, 1998), examining the extent metacognitiveevaluations influence participants’ underlying performance. Flavell divides metacognition into twoseparate components: metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences(Livingston, 1997). Since metacognition focused primarily on metacognitiveabilities as they develop with age (Cary & Reder, 2002), Flavell’s studyaimed to identify how different aged subjects monitored their cognition whilein social settings (Flavell, 1979), with the results suggesting olderparticipants with developed cognitive knowledge are more effective in monitoringtheir metacognition compared to younger children.

However, more recent work hasobserved that although cognition tends to improve with age, children as youngas 3-5 are able to understand their cognitive behaviours at a very simple level(Whitebread, Coltman, Pasternak, Sangster, Grau, Bingham, Almeqdad andDemetriou, 2009). RPM tests are independent of language, reading and writingskills. This practical application approach spread quickly and was used formany purposes, e.

g. acting as an entrance test to the armed forces and militaryservices. The findings from RPM study suggested that improvements inperformance reflected learning, as individuals learned to apply strategiesdepending on the situation (Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky, 1982). Previous studies on metacognition andRPM testing concluded that as the cognitive system develops, individuals becomemore aware of their cognitive processes, thus affecting performance levels. Inthe current study, we use these conclusions combined with the factor ofconfidence to test the extent to which task performance is impacted due tometacognitive evaluations, also known as reactivity. In Flavell’s experiment(1979), the situation where participants who thought they had accuratelymemorised a set of material but in fact, had not, brings some influence intothe current study where the effect awareness has on underlying performance is tested.A recent study used error monitoring to compare the distinction betweenmetacognitive judgements of decision confidence and error likelihood (Yeung andSummerfield, 2012), and another examined if reactivity would alter the decisionprocess (Petrusic and Baranski, 2003).

Previous research is lacking inconnection between confidence evaluation and reactivity. It has been suggestedthat there is an impact upon performance, but to what extent is something thathas yet to be established.  The current experiment design examinesreactivity, set out in three groups in which participants rated theirconfidence while performing cognitive tasks (RPM). The current studydraws upon the factors of Flavell’s experiment (1979), assessing how confidentparticipants were about their response to the material, while incorporating thedecision alteration aspects of Petrusic and Baranki’s research (2003).

However,instead of using error likelihood present in Yeung and Summerfield’s study(2012), the current study questions the participants’ likelihood of correctlyanswering a question. The expectation is that if the idea of ‘confidence’ wasprimed, an improvement would be seen in the RPM results compared to performingthe task without any metacognition awareness.ResultsAs seen in Figure 1, the participants of theconfidence rating condition (M = 8.1)and the priming condition (M = 7.95)scored a similar group mean result, while the control condition (M = 6.4) scored significantly lower. Participantsin the control condition were significantly less self-confident than the confidencerating participants (p = .032) andthe priming participants (p = .

045).However, confidence rating and priming condition participants did not have asignificant difference in self-confidence level (p = .831).  Figure1. The group means for No.

of RPM items correct (out of 12) for the three participant conditions.DiscussionBy utilising theRPM, participants in the confidence rating condition showed the highestaccuracy in cognitive tasks, suggesting that by following each question with aconfidence measure, ‘confidence’ was primed in the mind of the participants,resulting in an increase in performance. Similarly, the priming condition werealso aware of their confidence and accuracy, producing similar results to theconfidence rating group. On the other hand, the control condition had no relationto confidence evaluation, resulting in a significantly lower accuracy level.

Therefore, these results support the expectation that metacognitive behaviourof ‘confidence’ priming would increase reactivity. Flavell’s research (1979)concluded that as the metacognitive system develops, metacognition becomes moreapparent. In the current study, all participants were of mature age, and whenasked about metacognitive evaluations, they were able to give thoroughlyconsidered responses, supporting Flavell’s theory. Similar to Petrusic andBaranki’s study (2003), which questioned whether confidence would affect thedecision process, the current study goes further to attest the extent of theeffect. In comparison to Yeung and Summerfield’s study (2012), the currentstudy does not use error likelihood, but instead asks the participants howconfident they were about their answer being correct. These results suggestedthat participants were more likely to be certain of themselves being correct,and were rarely certain they had made an error, supporting the idea thatmetacognition optimises cognitive behaviour. The RPM is said to beindependent of language, reading and writing skills, so to improve the currentstudy, which only featured first year university students, further researchshould test a large random sample including those without a high level of theskills listed above to increase variety and validity of the results.

Flavell’sexperiment (1979) featured participants of younger ages, something futureresearchers in the area of confidence could consider, as it has been suggestedchildren at young ages are able to conduct metacognitive evaluations(Whitebread et al., 2009), also pertaining to the RPM not requiring a highlevel of cognitive skills. Flavell (1976) believed that interactionsamong metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive experiments, goals, and actions iswhat causes the occurrence of a wide variety of cognitive processes. Furtherresearch could also place a focus on personal goals and the influence that hasupon confidence level and performance. In the currentstudy, the extent of the affect to which metacognitive evaluations has upon theperception of confidence and underlying cognitive performance is tested throughthe use of RPM. This contribution adds further detail to previous study thatconfirmed the idea that metacognitive awareness has some influence onunderlying performance (Yeung and Summerfield, 2012). The final results suggestthat metacognition has quite a significant impact on the reactivity ofparticipants, with confidence priming encouraging a positive reaction to thematerial.


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