Perceptual decision confidence is sensitive to forgone physical effort expenditure

William Turner, Raina Angdias, Daniel Feuerriegel, Trevor T.-J. Chong, Robert Hester, Stefan Bode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary theoretical accounts of metacognition propose that action-related information is used in the computation of perceptual decision confidence. We investigated whether the amount of expended physical effort, or the ‘motoric sunk cost’ of a decision, influences perceptual decision confidence judgements in humans. In particular, we examined whether people feel more confident in decisions which required more effort to report. Forty-two participants performed a luminance discrimination task that involved identifying which of two flickering grayscale squares was brightest. Participants reported their choice by squeezing hand-held dynamometers. Across trials, the effort required to report a decision was varied across three levels (low, medium, high). Critically, participants were only aware of the required effort level on each trial once they had initiated their motor response, meaning that the varying effort requirements could not influence their initial decisions. Following each decision, participants rated their confidence in their choice. We found that participants were more confident in decisions that required greater effort to report. This suggests that humans are sensitive to motoric sunk costs and supports contemporary models of metacognition in which actions inform the computation of decision confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104525
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Decision confidence
  • Metacognition
  • Motor costs
  • Physical effort
  • Sunk costs

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