Vol 6, Issue 4, November 2019

A Similar Basis for Judging Confidence in Monkeys and Humans


Ferrigno, S., Bueno, G., & Cantlon, J. F. (2019). A similar basis for judging confidence in monkeys and humans. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 6(4), 335-343. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


A variety of animals have been shown to make confidence judgments about their own knowledge or performance, but the mechanism for these metacognitive decisions is still debated. Much of the work on animal metacognitive abilities has been to rule out alternative, non-introspective mechanisms such as associative learning, behavioral cue association, or environmental cue association. However, the human metacognition literature has shown that even humans often do not use true introspection or directly access their own memory to make metacognitive judgments–they sometimes use heuristic strategies based on perceptual salience. Often these heuristic strategies are inaccurate and cause metacognitive errors. Here we offer a new route to testing animal metacognitive abilities by comparing the fragility of human and animal metacognition. We show that monkeys’ confidence judgments, like those of humans, are at least partly based on salient perceptual features of the stimuli and susceptible to faulty heuristics.


Metacognition, Uncertainty monitoring, Confidence judgments, Fluency, Ease-of-processing heuristic