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Metacognition of Problem-Solving Strategies in Brazil, India, and the United States

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Metacognition, the observation of one's own thinking, is a key cognitive ability that allows humans to influence and restructure their own thought processes. The influence of culture on metacognitive strategies is a relatively new topic. Using Antonietti's, Ignazi's and Perego's questionnaire on metacognitive knowledge about problem-solving strategies (2000), five strategies in three life domains were assessed among student samples in Brazil, India, and the United States (N=317), regarding the frequency, facility, and efficacy of these strategies. To investigate cross-cultural similarities and differences in strategy use, nationality and uncertainty avoidance values were independent variables. Uncertainty avoidance was expected to lead to high frequency of decision strategies. However, results showed no effect of uncertainty avoidance on frequency, but an effect on facility of metacognitive strategies. Comparing the three cultural samples, all rated analogy as the most frequent strategy. Only in the U.S. sample, analogy was also rated as the most effective and easy to apply strategy. Every cultural group showed a different preference regarding what metacognitive strategy was most effective. Indian participants found the free production strategy to be more effective, and Indian and Brazilian participants found the combination strategy to be more effective compared to the U.S. participants. As key abilities for the five strategies, Indians rated speed, Brazilians rated synthesis, and U.S. participants rated critical thinking as more important than the other participants. These results reflect the embedded nature and functionality of problem solving strategies in specific cultural environments. The findings will be discussed referring to an eco-cultural framework.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of North Florida


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