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What are the metacognitive costs of young children’s overconfidence?

Abstract

Children typically hold very optimistic views of their own skills but so far, only a few studies have investigated possible correlates of the ability to predict performance accurately. Therefore, this study examined the role of individual differences in performance estimation accuracy as a global metacognitive index for different monitoring and control skills (item-level judgments of learning [JOLs] and confidence judgments [CJs]), metacognitive control processes (allocation of study time and control of answers), and executive functions (cognitive flexibility, inhibition, working memory) in 6-year-olds (N = 93). The three groups of under estimators, realists and over estimators differed significantly in their monitoring and control abilities: the under estimators outperformed the over estimators by showing a higher discrimination in CJs between correct and incorrect recognition. Also, the under estimators scored higher on the adequate control of incorrectly recognized items. Regarding the interplay of monitoring and control processes, under estimators spent more time studying items with low JOLs, and relied more systematically on their monitoring when controlling their recognition compared to over estimators. At the same time, the three groups did not differ significantly from each other in their executive functions. Overall, results indicate that differences in performance estimation accuracy are systematically related to other global and item-level metacognitive monitoring and control abilities in children as young as six years of age, while no meaningful association between performance estimation accuracy and executive functions was found.

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Acknowledgments

This project was partially financed by a grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF- Grant No.100014_126559 provided to Claudia M. Roebers). We would like to thank the participating children and their families, the children’s teachers and the student research assistants who helped with data collection.

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Correspondence to Nesrin Destan.

Appendix A

Appendix A

Table 5 Intercorrelations (Spearman-rho) of the study variables

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Destan, N., Roebers, C.M. What are the metacognitive costs of young children’s overconfidence?. Metacognition Learning 10, 347–374 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-014-9133-z

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Keywords

  • Performance estimation accuracy
  • Metacognitive abilities
  • Executive functions
  • Children
  • Individual differences