Metacognitive Effort Regulation across Cultures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Success in cognitive tasks is associated with effort regulation and motivation. We employed the meta-reasoning approach to investigate metacognitive monitoring accuracy and effort regulation in problem solving across cultures. Adults from China, from Israel, and from Europe and North America (for simplicity: “Western countries”) solved nonverbal problems and rated their confidence in their answers. The task involved identifying geometric shapes within silhouettes and, thus, required overcoming interference from holistic processing. The Western group displayed the worst monitoring accuracy, with both the highest overconfidence and poorest resolution (discrimination in confidence between the correct and wrong solutions). The Israeli group resembled the Western group in many respects but exhibited better monitoring accuracy. The Chinese group invested the most time and achieved the best success rates, demonstrating exceptional motivation and determination to succeed. However, their efficiency suffered as they correctly solved the fewest problems per minute of work. Effort regulation analysis based on the Diminishing Criterion Model revealed distinct patterns: the Western participants invested the least amount of time regardless of item difficulty and the Israelis invested more time only when addressing the hardest items. The Chinese group allocated more time throughout but particularly in moderate to difficult items, hinting at their strategic determination to overcome the challenge. Understanding cultural differences in metacognitive processes carries implications for theory (e.g., motivational factors) and practice (e.g., international teams, education). The present findings can serve as a foundation for future research in these and other domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171
JournalJournal of Intelligence
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • mental effort regulation
  • mental effort stopping rules
  • meta-reasoning
  • metacognition
  • monitoring accuracy
  • non-verbal problems
  • problem-solving

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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