Investigating metacognitive sensitivity of tip-of-the-tongue states and feeling-of-knowing judgments with general recognition theory
Tip-of-the-tongue states (TOT) and feeling-of-knowing judgments (FOK) are metacognitive experiences about the possibility of future retrieval of information when recall fails. Many studies show that experiencing a TOT or a high FOK increases the possibility of correct retrieval of missing information, which demonstrates metacognitive sensitivity (see Schwartz & Pournaghdali, 2021). However, evidence for metacognitive sensitivity of TOT and FOK mainly derives from measures that conflate metacognitive sensitivity with metacognitive bias. In the current study, we used general recognition theory (GRT) to provide bias-free assessments of metacognitive sensitivity for TOT and FOK. We asked participants to answer general-knowledge questions. If recall failed, participants provided metacognitive judgments of TOT and FOK, memory recognition responses, and metacognitive judgements of confidence on those recognition responses. After collecting the behavioral data, we fit two different GRT models to the data to assess metacognitive sensitivity of TOT and FOK. Using estimated parameters of the models, we constructed two sensitivity vs. metacognition (SvM) curves, which represent sensitivity in the recognition task, as a function of strength of metacognitive experiences: an SvM curve for TOT and an SvM curve for FOK. According to both SvM analyses, the highest level of recognition sensitivity was accompanied with highest strength of metacognitive experiences, and as the magnitude of metacognitive experiences dropped, so did recognition sensitivity. However, the recognition sensitivity was higher than chance level when people did not experience a TOT or FOK. These results are the first bias-free indication of metacognitive sensitivity of TOT and FOK judgments.