Theory and Practice of Awareness Measurement in Experimental Cognitive Research



Measurement of consciousness is one of the key methodological problems of cognitive experiments. The choice of method is often made without reference to a specific theory or the explication of the underlying assumptions about the nature of the phenomenon being measured. It is suggested that the lack of theoretical justification of the employed methods leads to unconstructive criticism and disagreement among researchers. We discussed the most common awareness measures in research on learning, memory, perception, and the underlying assumptions about the nature of consciousness and their relationship to theories of consciousness. The degree of theoretical justification of consciousness measures was assessed in a sample of 179 experimental articles. It was shown that in only a quarter of cases, the researchers linked the methods with corresponding assumptions about the nature of consciousness. In the rest of the cases, the choice of method was not theoretically justified.

General Information

Keywords: consciousness, awareness measures, perception, implicit learning, memory, methods

Journal rubric: Cognitive Psychology

Article type: review article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 19-113-50319.

Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful to the participants of the remote scientific seminar "Objective measures and metacognitive metrics of insight solutions" (August 8, 2020) as well as Artur Ammalainen for valuable comments and productive discussion.

Received: 13.08.2020


For citation: Kulieva A.K., Tikhonov R.V., Ivanchei I.I. Theory and Practice of Awareness Measurement in Experimental Cognitive Research. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2021. Vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 164–181. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2021140409. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Almara K. Kulieva, Lecturer at the Department of General Psychology, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Assistant of the Department of General Psychology, Faculty of Psychology Saint Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Roman V. Tikhonov, PhD in Psychology, Junior Researcher, Laboratory for Cognitive Studies, Saint Petersburg State University, Junior Researcher, Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, HSE University — Saint Petersburg, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Ivan I. Ivanchei, PhD in Psychology, Researcher of the Laboratory of Cognitive Research, Department of Psychology, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Researcher of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium), Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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