Perceptual decisions seem to be made automatically and almost instantly. Constructing a unitary subjective conscious experience takes more time. For example, when trying to avoid a collision with a car on a foggy road you brake or steer away in a reflex, before realizing you were in a near accident. This subjective aspect of object recognition has been given little attention. We used metacognition (assessed with confidence ratings) to measure subjective experience during object detection and object categorization for degraded and masked objects, while objective performance was matched. Metacognition was equal for degraded and masked objects, but categorization led to higher metacognition than did detection. This effect turned out to be driven by a difference in metacognition for correct rejection trials, which seemed to be caused by an asymmetry of the distractor stimulus: It does not contain object-related information in the detection task, whereas it does contain such information in the categorization task. Strikingly, this asymmetry selectively impacted metacognitive ability when objective performance was matched. This finding reveals a fundamental difference in how humans reflect versus act on information: When matching the amount of information required to perform two tasks at some objective level of accuracy (acting), metacognitive ability (reflecting) is still better in tasks that rely on positive evidence (categorization) than in tasks that rely more strongly on an absence of evidence (detection). © 2014 Psychonomic Society, Inc.
Meuwese, J. D. I., van Loon, A. M., Lamme, V. A. F., & Fahrenfort, J. J. (2014). The subjective experience of object recognition: comparing metacognition for object detection and object categorization. Perception & Psychophysics, 76(4), 1057-1068. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-014-0643-1