It would seem that awareness is related to what psychologists call “metacognition”. Metacognition is not one thing. The metacognitive system is composed of distinct anatomical and functional parts. So metacognition encompasses a lot of different things, including declarative knowledge about oneself, as well as anticipatory and emergent self-awareness – meaning anticipating and monitoring one’s environment, responses and behavior as the world unfolds.

Metacognitive processes do not need to be fully conscious. They include an unarticulated knowingness or emotional sense about oneself in specific situations that affects planning/preparation and results in ongoing self-regulation (Efklides 2006).  Interestingly, general self-knowledge is not correlated with the ability to accurately anticipate or monitor/adjust/correct behavior in specific situations (O’Keefe et al 2007).

Self-awareness doesn’t mean explicit or focal attention with the “self” as its object. It can inhabit the edges. It can be a sense or a knowingness. Can we be knowing, aware, but wrong? I ask because some people may assume that awareness confers accurate understanding, or at the very least is a necessary condition of accurate understanding.

Does it?


Efklides, Anastasia. (2006). Metacognition and affect: What can metacognitive experiences tell us about the learning process? Educational Research Review, 1(1), 3-14. 

O’Keeffe F, Dockree P, Moloney P, Carton S, Robertson IH (2007) Awareness of deficits in traumatic brain injury: a multidimensional approach to assessing metacognitive knowledge and online-awareness. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 13(1):38-49.