The Variety of Metacognitive Feelings: Different Phenomena or Different Terms?



Conscious experiences accompanying cognition and related to its process are called “metacognitive feelings”. There are several dozens of terms for designating their varieties: “a feeling of confidence”, “a feeling of warmth”, “a feeling of knowing”, “a feeling of familiarity” and many others. Some researchers suggest that these terms denote different mental phenomena, while others point to their similarity. The article contains descriptions of metacognitive feelings and provides a review of their classifications. We distinguish two approaches to understanding the functions and content of metacognitive processes. The “specific approach” suggests that metacognitive experiences initially provide the information about their source, allowing to monitor and to control mental processes. According to the “nonspecific approach”, metacognitive experiences serve as a signal, reflecting the results of unconscious processing without communicating the content and the source of underlying processes. In this case, the aim of consciousness is not to directly control the underlying processes, but to identify the causes of the nonspecific signal. The problem of the variety of metacognitive feelings is resolved in different ways within the two approaches. In the specific approach, the diversity of metacognitions derives from different mental processes, resulting in distinguishable subjective experiences. In the nonspecific approach, metacognitive feelings arise at later stages of information processing as a result of attribution of the nonspecific signal to certain mental phenomena or the external world. We conclude that recently there has been a gradual shift from the specific approach to the nonspecific approach, but only a few authors explicitly formulate their position.

General Information

Keywords: metacognition, metacognitive processes, subjective judgments, attribution, fluency of processing, consciousness, cognitive unconscious

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology of Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Tikhonov R.V., Ammalainen A.V., Moroshkina N.V. The Variety of Metacognitive Feelings: Different Phenomena or Different Terms?. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2018. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 214–242. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

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:

Arthur V. Ammalainen, Master’s degree programme student, St. Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Nadezhda V. Moroshkina, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher, Cognitive Research Laboratory, St. Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:



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