Purdue University Graduate School
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Meaning-Making Processes Across the Lifespan: An Investigation of Metacognitive Capacity and Autobiographical Reasoning

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posted on 2020-07-29, 16:24 authored by Beshaun DavisBeshaun Davis
Deficits in metacognitive capacity (i.e., the ability to integrate knowledge of oneself and others into a cohesive whole) have been shown to lead to poor functional outcome in psychosis. However, there is a gap in the literature concerning the role of metacognition in typically developing populations, which makes it difficult to define what level of metacognition is normative. Evidence from other models of self-experience such as autobiographical reasoning indicate that self-reflection increases across the lifespan, suggesting that the same may be true for metacognitive capacity. Thus, the current study expands knowledge of the self-concept by establishing a connection between metacognitive capacity and autobiographical reasoning and exploring the developmental course of metacognition in healthy populations. To that end, the following aims were evaluated: 1) Determining the developmental trajectory of metacognitive capacity; 2) Elucidating the relationship between metacognitive capacity and autobiographical reasoning; and 3) Exploring the potential moderating effect of autobiographical reasoning on the proposed relationship between age and metacognitive capacity. Our findings suggest that overall metacognitive capacity is consistent across the lifespan; however, awareness of the experiences of others increases with age. We also found that metacognitive capacity and autobiographical reasoning are separate constructs, with only a trend level negative association between autobiographical reasoning and decentration. This novel study elucidates the role of aging on metacognition and suggests that self-reflectivity is generally intact in the absence of severe psychopathology.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kyle Minor, PhD

Additional Committee Member 2

Michelle Salyers, PhD

Additional Committee Member 3

Paul Lysaker, PhD

Additional Committee Member 4

Evava Pietri, PhD

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