Humans have feelings of uncertainty and confidence, of not knowing and knowing. They respond appropriately to these feelings by reflecting, rethinking, and seeking additional information. These responses ground the human literature on uncertainty monitoring and metacognition (Dunlosky and Bjork 2008; Flavell 1979; Koriat 1993; Nelson 1992). Humans’ uncertainty awareness reveals a high-level cognitive capacity in them that is allied to their conscious awareness. Thus, it was a natural question whether nonhuman animals (hereafter, animals) might share with humans some aspects of a metacognitive capacity (Smith 2009; Terrace and Metcalfe 2005), because the answer to that question could bear on animals’ consciousness and self-awareness, too.
Given the question’s importance, Smith and his colleagues inaugurated a new area of comparative inquiry by asking whether animals have a capacity for uncertainty monitoring and metacognition regulation. The key to opening up this research area was to...
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