Consistency, not speed: temporal regularity as a metacognitive cue

Lisa M. Stevenson, Richard A. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We examined the hypothesis that skilled performance is monitored on the basis of fluency, where fluency is operationally defined as temporal regularity or rhythmicity rather than speed. Since error is often associated with variable timing, we tested the possibility that people use varied timing as a metacognitive cue. Using a sequential counting task, which may be representative of the broader class of skilled, multi-step tasks, we found that shifting between irregular and regular timing led to greater confidence ratings when the timing associated with the task was regular. We argue that regular, consistent timing, when compared directly to irregular timing, produced feelings of fluent task performance, leading to increased confidence. In the first experiment, we demonstrated that both accuracy and confidence were higher when participants completed a task presented with regular timing. In the second experiment, we found a dissociation between accuracy and confidence, strengthening the argument that individuals relied on monitoring of fluency to support their metacognitive judgments. In Study 3 and an assessment of naïve beliefs, we ruled out alternative explanations for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-98
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Consistency, not speed: temporal regularity as a metacognitive cue'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this