Terry Eskenazi (LNC, ENS Paris) & Amélie Jacquot (LNC, ENS Paris)
"Social influences on metacognitive evaluations in France and in Japan"
Social influences on decisions and behaviour have long been studied, however little is known whether metacognitive processes are also susceptible to social influence. In the first part of the talk, we will present a set of behavioural studies, which demonstrated an impact of social feedback on retrospective metacognitive evaluations (i.e. decision confidence), even when the feedback was implicit and entirely unreliable, at the expense of metacognitive accuracy. We will then continue with an fMRI study, which revealed this time an impact of retrospective metacognitive evaluations (i.e. decision confidence) on social feedback processing. The results of parametric analyses revealed that different neuronal populations of the posterior medial frontal cortex (known for its involvement in error detection), are sensitive, on the one hand, to positive feedback with decreasing levels of confidence, and on the other hand, to negative feedback with increasing levels of confidence. We will discuss the respective role of these neuronal populations in decision making.
Olivier Le Guen, (CIESAS, Mexico) and Martin Fortier (IJN, ENS, Paris)
Olivier Le Guen, (CIESAS, Mexico)
"Metacognition in Yucatec Mayan Children".
This talk will present recent experimental evidence about Yucatec Mayan children’s metacognitive abilities. Granting that German and Japanese children have been shown by Kim et al.' (2016) study to have a different sensitivity to what they know when reporting knowledge or informing another person, it is worth investigating whether this contrast is also present in children from a non-industrial society. Adapting Kim et al.’s 2016 study, we have explored whether 3,5 to 5 years old children 1) report that they know (or don't) and (2) are (or not) willing to inform another person in three conditions: when they have (a) full knowledge, (b) partial knowledge and (c) no
knowledge of the location of an object.
The children have also been subjected to a version of the False Belief Task in which they are asked to deceive another person. This task is used as a comparative method to test how Yucatec Mayan children are managing other’s beliefs. This method is inspired by anthropological considerations relative to the cultural management of epistemicity among the Yucatec Mayans.
Martin Fortier (IJN, ENS, Paris)
"Metacognition in supernatural thinking: A probabilistic approach"
The metacognitive study of supernatural thinking can follow at least two paths. (1) The first consists in examining the diverse epistemic norms that govern the acceptance of supernatural claims. (2) The second focuses on how supernatural beliefs change the way noetic feelings are interpreted and used in self-regulation. In this presentation, some aspects of these two paths will be investigated through a specific case study.
Ethnographic evidence suggests that detecting supernatural agency in ordinary events crucially depends on probabilistic reasoning. I will argue that the specific kind of probabilistic reasoning at stake can be best described using Jean-Louis Dessalles’ theorizing of Kolmogorov’s work on complexity as well as his theorizing of relevance and unexpectedness. Indeed, I will show that most instances of supernatural inferences to be found in the ethnographic literature can be characterized as cases of discrepancy between (high) generation-complexity and (low) description-complexity. I will subsequently examine the links between this probabilistic model of supernatural thinking and some noetic feelings and epistemic norms that play a central role in metacognition. I will finally explain why this line of research can help us better understand the diversity of metacognition.
Nicholas Shea (King's College London)
"Metacognition About Concepts".
Concepts are the constituents of thought and underpin much personal level reasoning. They also allow us to ‘project’ properties we have learnt about one object to new objects. For example, I might interact with something I have classified under my CAT concept and learn that it purrs when stroked. When subsequently encountering another object that is classified under CAT I can form the expectation that it will purr if stroked. Reasoning and ‘projection’ are two core uses of concepts.
Some concepts are more dependable than others for these purposes. This paper will suggest that thinkers often make use of a sense of how dependable their concepts are. Such ‘feelings of dependability’ are not explicit higher order beliefs about a concept, but a form of what has been called ‘procedural metacognition’ (Proust 2013 The Philosophy of Metacognition). Metacognition has been studied in relation to many cognitive processes, prominently memory and decision making, but it is little-studied in relation to concepts.
Concepts could be a fruitful area in which to study to the cultural diversity of metacognition, since the metacognitive feelings associated with cognate concepts in different cultures are likely to differ. This paper, formulated at a preliminary stage of investigation, makes a prima facie case that there is metacognition of concepts, in the form of a non-conceptual representation or feeling of dependability that is associated with the use of many concepts. It makes some suggestions about cultural variation in concept metacognition and goes on to explore some philosophical applications of the idea that there is metacognition of concepts
Joëlle Proust (Institut Jean Nicod)
"Cross-cultural diversity, folk epistemology and metacognition"
Does cross-cultural diversity influence metacognition, and if so, in which way? Noetic feelings, such as the feeling of knowing, the feeling of being right, or the tip of the tongue, seem to be present in all human groups. Recent studies, in addition, have found evidence for universal epistemological intuitions across cultures. On the other hand, there is a striking cross-cultural divergence in socially recognized methods for reducing uncertainty and/or gaining knowledge – see the gap between, on the one hand, divination and palm reading, and, on the other, controlled methods of hypothesis testing. How could one and the same system of evaluation endorse so widely different, and indeed incompatible, epistemic practices? We will discuss various factors involved in such practices, such as the relative weight culturally attributed to perceptual evidence and verbal testimony, the type of fluency relied upon, the comparative sensitivity to consistency and to informativeness, and the role of expertise and authority in individual epistemic decision.