Common computations for metacognition and meta-metacognition.
Zheng Y., Recht S., Rahnev D.
Recent evidence shows that people have the meta-metacognitive ability to evaluate their metacognitive judgments of confidence. However, it is unclear whether meta-metacognitive judgments are made by a different system and rely on a separate set of computations compared to metacognitive judgments. To address this question, we asked participants (N = 36) to perform a perceptual decision-making task and provide (i) an object-level, Type-1 response about the identity of the stimulus; (ii) a metacognitive, Type-2 response (low/high) regarding their confidence in their Type-1 decision; and (iii) a meta-metacognitive, Type-3 response (low/high) regarding the quality of their Type-2 rating. We found strong evidence for the existence of Type-3, meta-metacognitive ability. In a separate condition, participants performed an identical task with only a Type-1 response followed by a Type-2 response given on a 4-point scale. We found that the two conditions produced equivalent results such that the combination of binary Type-2 and binary Type-3 responses acts similar to a 4-point Type-2 response. Critically, while Type-2 evaluations were subject to metacognitive noise, Type-3 judgments were made at no additional cost. These results suggest that it is unlikely that there is a distinction between Type-2 and Type-3 systems (metacognition and meta-metacognition) in perceptual decision-making and, instead, a single system can be flexibly adapted to produce both Type-2 and Type-3 evaluations recursively.