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Cognition 116 2010 267 282 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Cognition journal homepage www elsevier com locate COGNIT Metacognition of agency across the lifespan Janet Metcalfe a Teal S Eich a b Alan D Castel b a b Department of Psychology 401B Schermerhorn Hall Columbia University New York NY 10027 United States Department of Psychology 1285 Franz Hall Box 951563 University of California Los Angeles CA 90095 1563 United States a r t i c l e i n f o Article history Received 8 November 2009 Revised 13 March 2010 Accepted 15 May 2010 Keywords Agency Metacognition Older adults Children a b s t r a c t Metacognitions of agency were investigated using a computer task in which X s and O s streamed from the top of a computer screen and the participants moved the mouse to get the cursor to touch the X s and avoid the O s After each 15 s trial participants made judgments of agency and judgments of performance Objective control was either undistorted or distorted by 1 Turbulence i e random noise 2 a Lag between the mouse and cursor movements of 250 or 500 ms or 3 Magic i e an increased radius around the X s for which credit was given In Experiment 1 college students judgments of agency showed that they were sensitive to all three manipulations They also indicated that they felt more in control in the Lag conditions where there was a rule on which they could potentially capitalize than in the matched Turbulence conditions In Experiment 2 older adults were also sensitive to all three manipulations but less so than the college students They were not sensitive to the difference between the Lag and Turbulence manipulations Finally in Experiment 3 8 10 year old children were sensitive to their loss of control equally in the Lag and Turbulence conditions However when performance was arti cially improved in the Magic condition children took full credit and showed no evidence that they realized that the results were due to an external variable Together these ndings suggest

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