Metacognition: thinking about thinking

Metacognition is the process of actively seeking to understand and improve your thinking. Metacognition includes planning how to think, monitoring your thoughts, and then reflecting on how you think in certain situations—choosing models or strategies to help you think about and solve problems. By seeking to understand the way you think, you can change it to produce improved outcomes.

Metacognition is an awareness of one’s own thought processes and an understanding of the patterns behind them.


There are two components of metacognition:

  1. Knowledge about cognition
  2. Regulation of cognition

Knowledge about cognition refers to what you know about yourself and how you and others think. Through monitoring and reflection, you might notice that you perform better in one type of situation than another, or you could develop an awareness of common cognitive biases like ‘loss aversion’ to help you understand how and why you and others make decisions. Regulation of cognition is the act of controlling the way you think. Standard regulation methods include developing habits through repetition to reprogram your mind to new presets or arranging your environment to encourage a particular form of thinking. 

A simple cycle to improve metacognition: 

  • Plan
  • Change
  • Monitor
  • Evaluate

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