Keep reading for FREE
The Science Of Self Awareness
We human being are self aware(?)
Unraveling the truth of self awareness through the light of science.
Let me ask you a question: What’s Elton John’s real name?
Now, there are three ways you might respond.
One: “I have absolutely no idea.”
Two: “Reginald Dwight, obviously!”
Three: “I know that I know that! It’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t seem to remember it.”
This third reaction is a great example of a process that cognitive neuroscientists call metacognition.
These days, this capacity for self-awareness is a field of neuroscientific study in its own right: the field of metacognition. Understanding metacognitive processes can actually help us think better, make sharper decisions, and avoid critical errors. Luckily, you don’t have to be a trained neuroscientist to apply some of the key principles of metacognition to your own thinking.
We’re all self-aware to some degree. Our aptitude for metacognition is hardwired into our brains and many key metacognitive processes are actually performed automatically. If you’ve ever set a drink down on the table, missed the table by an inch or two, and reflexively caught your glass before it shatters on the floor – well, that was your ingrained metacognition at work. We perform a lot of simple tasks, like drinking a glass of water, automatically. At the same time, we’re constantly self-monitoring. If a task doesn’t progress as predicted, we instinctively self-correct.
We can build on the metacognitive instincts hardwired into our brain by cultivating more explicit metacognitive strategies. Research has shown that some people are more naturally prone to metacognition than others; neuropsychologists call these people “metacognitively gifted.” But we’re all capable of developing and refining our metacognitive skills.
When it comes to how we learn, confidence is key. If we feel confident in our ability to perform a task we’re much more likely to pull it off. Psychologist Bandura came up with a concept that explains is “self-efficacy.” It is your overall belief in your talents and abilities. Learners with high self-efficacy tend to outperform their peer in context. It goes further: high self-efficacy correlates with higher persistence as well as performance. In addition to performing well, students with high self-efficacy are less likely to give up when a task becomes tricky which enhances their performance
Explaining a concept or articulating a process to someone else can make your own knowledge and limits explicit. There’s a phenomenon known as the illusion of explanatory depth – basically, we often think we know more than we actually do.
So, you might think you know how a lightbulb works but when you try and explain it out loud to someone else, you might quickly realize there are some crucial gaps in your understanding. What’s more, we humans have a weird quirk – we’re much more likely to identify and correct mistakes when other people make them, even when we’ve unknowingly made that exact same mistake ourselves. This is why correcting another student might be the best way for learners to recognize their own mistakes.
What happens when someone isn’t willing to engage with other people’s viewpoints? Log on to Twitter or Facebook and you’ll likely see for yourself. A skewed sense of self-awareness may be contributing to the increasingly extreme political content, at both ends of the spectrum, that is so prevalent online. Interestingly, it seems that those who are most dogmatic in their political beliefs – whether they identify as right-wing or left-wing – score low on tests for metacognitive aptitude.
People with poor metacognition skills are more likely to believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong, less likely to change their minds when presented with information that contradicts their beliefs, and less likely to search out new information on topics where they’ve already formed a strong opinion. If you’ve ever engaged with political discussion online and felt like you were yelling at a brick wall, well, in a metacognitive sense, you kind of were.
When we approach a decision with a high level of confidence that we’re correct, we tend to be assertive and efficient in our choices. Once they’re made, we’ll likely stick to them. When we approach a decision with a lower level of confidence in our choice, we’re likely to make slower, more judicious decisions and be more open to competing viewpoints and possibilities.
How does metacognition apply? It might come down to being conscious of how confident you are in your choices. Don’t automatically override doubts or misgivings; use them as tools to stress-test your decision.
The lesson? If you want to be a flexible, adaptive thinker, try and interact with people whose beliefs and opinions differ from yours. You don’t have to agree with everything they say – simply interacting with them will help boost your metacognitive sensitivity.
Ready for the next level?
Read Like a Pro
Explore the World’s
Take Your Ideas
Just press play and we take care of the words.
No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.
2 Million Stashers
Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.
This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!
Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.
Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.
I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!
Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.
Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.
Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.
Read & Learn
Access to 200,000+ ideas
Access to the mobile app
Unlimited idea saving & library
Unlimited listening to ideas
Downloading & offline access
Claim Your Limited Offer
Get Deepstash Pro