A rising body of research investigates whether animals have skills similar to human metacognition (i.e., the ability of humans to monitor their states of uncertainty and knowing). Comparative psychologists investigated this topic by administering perception, memory, and food- concealment paradigms to dolphins, pigeons, rats, monkeys, and apes. As part of this approach, some associative modelers have sought to characterize animals "metacognitive" performances in low-level, associative terms-a significant objective if realized. The authors provide a synopsis of the factual and theoretical circumstances surrounding these associative descriptions. Important occurrences are missed by associative descriptions in the animal-metacognition literature. The emphasis on abstract, mathematical associative models causes severe interpretive issues. The authors contrast these unsuccessful associative descriptions with a modern comparative psychology theoretical approach. The alternative method has the potential to improve comparative psychology as an empirical discipline and more thoroughly incorporate it into the mainstream of experimental psychology and cognitive research.