Psychiatrically relevant signatures of domain-general decision-making and metacognition in the general population

Christopher Benwell (Lead / Corresponding author), Greta Mohr, Jana Wallberg, Aya Kouadio, Robin A. A. Ince

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Human behaviours are guided by how confident we feel in our abilities. When confidence does not reflect objective performance, this can impact critical adaptive functions and impair life quality. Distorted decision-making and confidence have been associated with mental health problems. Here, utilising advances in computational and transdiagnostic psychiatry, we sought to map relationships between psychopathology and both decision-making and confidence in the general population across two online studies (N’s = 344 and 473, respectively). The results revealed dissociable decision-making and confidence signatures related to distinct symptom dimensions. A dimension characterised by compulsivity and intrusive thoughts was found to be associated with reduced objective accuracy but, paradoxically, increased absolute confidence, whereas a dimension characterized by anxiety and depression was associated with systematically low confidence in the absence of impairments in objective accuracy. These relationships replicated across both studies and distinct cognitive domains (perception and general knowledge), suggesting that they are reliable and domain general. Additionally, whereas Big-5 personality traits also predicted objective task performance, only symptom dimensions related to subjective confidence. Domain-general signatures of decision-making and metacognition characterise distinct psychological dispositions and psychopathology in the general population and implicate confidence as a central component of mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Number of pages17
Journalnpj Mental Health Research
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022


  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Decision
  • Human behaviour
  • Personality
  • Psychology


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