Improving Metacognitive Accuracy: How Failing to Retrieve Practice Items Reduces Overconfidence

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People often exhibit inaccurate metacognitive monitoring. For example, overconfidence occurs when people judge that they will remember more information on a future test then they actually do. The present experiments examined whether a small number of retrieval practice opportunities would improve participants’ metacognitive accuracy by reducing overconfidence. Participants studied Lithuanian–English paired associates and predicted their performance on an upcoming memory test. Then they attempted to retrieve one or more practice items (or none in the control condition) and made a second prediction. Experiment 1 showed that failing to retrieve a single practice item lead to improved subsequent performance predictions – participants became less overconfident. Experiment 2 directly manipulated retrieval failure and showed that again failure to retrieve a single practice item significantly improved subsequent predictions, relative to when participants successfully retrieved the practice item. Finally, Experiment 3 showed that additional retrieval practice opportunities reduced overconfidence and improved prediction accuracy.

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Consciousness and Cognition



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