More Than Just Beliefs: Experience and Beliefs Jointly Contribute to Volume Effects on Metacognitive Judgments

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Experience-based cues, such as perceptual fluency, have long been thought to influence metacognitive judgments (Kelley & Jacoby, 1996; Koriat, 1997). Studies found that manipulations of perceptual fluency via changes in font and volume alter Judgments of Learning (JOLs) without influencing memory performance (Rhodes & Castel, 2008, 2009). Nonetheless, recent research (Mueller, Tauber, & Dunlosky, 2013; Mueller, Dunlosky, Tauber, & Rhodes, 2014, 2016) has challenged the notion that experience-based cues such as fluency are the primary basis for item-level JOLs, arguing instead that preexisting beliefs about these manipulations are responsible for these effects. For the first time, we compared global metacognitive judgments to item-level JOLs made during study to independently assess the contribution of beliefs and experience to volume-effects on JOLs. In 3 experiments, we found evidence for strong beliefs about volume-effects on memory, both before and after a study-test phase. However, these beliefs either did not account for the volume effect on JOLs (Experiment 3) or only partially accounted for the volume effect on JOLs (Experiments 1 and 2). Further, in Experiments 2 and 3 global performance estimates (before and after study) did not differ with respect to the volume dose whereas item-level JOLs generally varied with dose strength. Taken together, our findings suggest that both beliefs and experience-based cues contribute independently to the effects of volume on item-level JOLs, but that beliefs alone cannot fully account for the effects of volume on item-level JOLs.

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