Recent studies on metaattention have demonstrated a tendency toward overestimating one’s performance on attentionally demanding tasks. However, the extent to which such metacognitive failures apply to all attentional phenomena remains unclear. The present study examined whether participants could anticipate attentional capture elicited by a task-irrelevant distractor during visual search. We measured attentional capture among university students and preschoolers and examined metaattentional judgments made by university students and the preschoolers’ parents. The students and preschoolers exhibited attentional capture. The university group underestimated their attentional performance, and the parents predicted that they would be less affected by capture than would their children. These results indicate that the tendency toward overestimating metaattentional capabilities is not a ubiquitous but rather represents a domain-specific effect. We propose that veridical metaattentional judgements can be made when the attentional phenomena in question relate to deficits that participants are able to notice in actual life.
2010 by the PSYCHOLOGIA SOCIETY