Preregistrations: [Study 1b], [Study 3a], [Study 3b], [Study 3c], [Study 3d]
This paper is in press at Psychological Science (09/20/20)
Abstract: Cognitive ability consists not only of one’s internal competence, but also the augmentation offered by the outside world. How much of our cognitive success is due to our own abilities, and how much is due to external support? Can we accurately draw that distinction? Here we explore when and why people are unaware of their reliance on outside assistance. Across eight studies (N = 2,440, recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk), people show improved metacognitive calibration when assistance occurs after a delay or requires active choice. Furthermore, these findings apply across a wide range of cognitive tasks, including semantic memory (Experiment 1a & 1b), episodic memory (Experiment 2a & 2b) and problem solving (Experiment 3a–3d). These studies offer important insights into how we understand our own abilities when we rely on outside help.