Are you confident enough to act? Individual differences in action control are associated with post-decisional metacognitive bias

June, 2022


The art of making good choices and being consistent in executing them is essential for having a successful and fulfilling life. Individual differences in action control are believed to have a crucial impact on how we make choices and whether we put them in action. Action-oriented people are more decisive, flexible and likely to implement their intentions in the face of adversity. In contrast, state-oriented people often struggle to commit to their choices and end up second-guessing themselves. Here, we employ a model-based computational approach to study the underlying cognitive differences between action and state-oriented people in simple binary-choice decision tasks. In Experiment 1 we show that there is little-to-no evidence that the two groups differ in terms of decision-related parameters and strong evidence for differences in metacognitive bias. Action-oriented people exhibit greater confidence in the correctness of their choices as well as slightly elevated judgement sensitivity, although no differences in performance are present. In Experiment 2 we replicate this effect and show that the confidence gap generalizes to value-based decisions, widens as a function of difficulty and is independent of deliberation interval. Furthermore, allowing more time for confidence deliberation indicated that state-oriented people focus more strongly on external features of choice. We propose that a positive confidence bias, coupled with appropriate metacognitive sensitivity, might be crucial for the successful realization of intentions in many real-life situations. More generally, our study provides an example of how modelling latent cognitive processes can bring meaningful insight into the study of individual differences.

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