Thinking of Oneself as an Object of Observation Reduces Reliance on Metacognitive Information

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Abstract

This research explores the consequences of two states of mind on judgment: a subjective state, looking at the world from one’s own eyes, and an objective state, in which one thinks of oneself from the imagined perspective of an external observer. In six experiments, we show that judgments people make while they are in a subjective state of mind are more influenced by metacognitive experience compared with judgments people make when they are in an objective state of mind. This is demonstrated in Experiments 1–3, using two different manipulations for the two states of mind and two different fluency tasks. Experiment 4 explores the underlying mechanism and demonstrates that an objective state does not lessen the metacognitive experience itself; rather, it affects the reliance on this experience as a relevant source of information. Finally, in Experiments 5 and 6 we investigate implications of our hypothesis for doing experimental research in psychology. We find that taking part in a laboratory experiment resembles the experimental condition of an objective state of mind, as participants rely less on their metacognition compared with conditions aimed to restore the subjective state of mind within the lab setting. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings regarding social influences on judgments and decisions in psychology labs and in the real world.

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