Determinants of Cognitive Offloading: Toward a Metacognitive Approach
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Individuals frequently make use of the body and environment when engaged in a cognitive task. For example, individuals will often spontaneously physically rotate when faced with rotated objects, such as an array of words, putatively to offload the costs associated with stimulus rotation. We examined this idea further by independently manipulating the costs associated with both word rotation and array frame rotation. Surprisingly, we found that individuals’ patterns of spontaneous physical rotations did not follow patterns of rotation costs or benefits associated with being physically rotated, findings difficult to reconcile with existing theories of strategy selection involving external resources. Individuals’ subjective ratings of perceived benefits, rather, provided an excellent match to the patterns of physical rotations, suggesting that theory-based metacognitive judgments are used when deciding on-the-fly whether to incorporate an external resource such as the body. Implications for metacognition’s future in theories of cognitive offloading are discussed.
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