History biases reveal novel dissociations between perceptual and metacognitive decision-making

Christopher S. Y. Benwell, Rachael Beyer, Francis Wallington, Robin A. A. Ince

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Human decision-making and self-reflection often depend on context and internal biases. For instance, decisions are often influenced by preceding choices, regardless of their relevance. It remains unclear how choice history influences different levels of the decision-making hierarchy. We used analyses grounded in information and detection theories to estimate the relative strength of perceptual and metacognitive history biases and to investigate whether they emerge from common/unique mechanisms. Although both perception and metacognition tended to be biased toward previous responses, we observed novel dissociations that challenge normative theories of confidence. Different evidence levels often informed perceptual and metacognitive decisions within observers, and response history distinctly influenced first- (perceptual) and second- (metacognitive) order decision-parameters, with the metacognitive bias likely to be strongest and most prevalent in the general population. We propose that recent choices and subjective confidence represent heuristics, which inform first- and second-order decisions in the absence of more relevant evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number5
Early online date18 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • computational modeling
  • history bias
  • metacognition
  • perception
  • serial dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology


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