Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Thomas Hamilton

Second Advisor

Cheryl Hoover

Third Advisor

Mike Franklin

Abstract

The purpose of the present experiment was to test individual metacognitive knowledge of theory of mind abilities. Male and female college students (N = 73) took the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test {RMET) developed by S. Baron-Cohen two consecutive times. This test is composed of picture clips of human eyes which are expressing different complex emotions and tests first order theory of mind (attribution of mental state). On the first trial (choice trial) participants were allowed to leave questions “Blank;” on the second trial (forced trial) participants were required to answer all of the questions on the test. Forty-three of the 73 students tested were used in the data analysis. There were no statistically significant differences in the number of participants who left “Blanks” on the choice trial as a function of gender. However, a gender difference was seen in the frequency of “Blanks” on the choice trial. Statistical analysis yielded support for the hypothesis that participants would leave questions “Blank” on the choice trial that they would answer correctly on the forced trial, that is, they knew more than they thought they knew when it came to the RMET. The study also revealed that participants did not use the option to leave questions “Blank” as effectively as they should have, meaning they decided to answer questions on the choice trial and answered them incorrectly. These results suggest that the participants tested had poor metacognitive knowledge in regards to their theory of mind abilities and highlight a previously unidentified role of under-confidence in this phenomenon.

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