Publication 4333

Strle T. (2016) Feeling and thinking about the future: Offline metacognition in decision-making. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 14(4): 331–343. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4333
In the article, I will argue that metacognition plays an important role in decision-making not only as direct online monitoring and control of decision-making processes but also by enabling us to influence our decisions and actions – and mental states and processes, related to them – in an offline manner. That is, offline metacognition allows us to observe, refer to and, to a certain degree, exert influence on mental states and processes related to our decisions and actions in the way of being removed, decoupled from the task/decision at hand and present time demands. As such, it enables us to observe, form thoughts and have feelings about mental states and processes directly related to our future decisions, to plan our future decisions, to reflect on our past choices, and to think and have feelings about our broader goals, desires, and personal values that are indirectly related to our decisions. To illustrate the importance of offline metacognition in decision-making, I will firstly review and discuss some experimental findings on implementation intentions (“decisions about the future”) and anticipated emotions (beliefs about future emotional states related to outcomes of our decisions). Secondly, I will argue that our ability to reflect (think and feel) on our broader goals, desires and personal values – that represent a kind of structure into which our specific decisions are embedded – reveals how offline metacognition can exert influence on our decisions also in an indirect way. All in all, I will try to show that our ability to refer to our own minds in an offline way – be it to mental states and processes directly or indirectly related to specific decisions – is essential for us to decide, as we decide, and act, as we act.

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