Perceptual confidence results from a metacognitive process which evaluates how likely our percepts are to be correct. Many competing models of perceptual metacognition enjoy strong empirical support. Arbitrating these models traditionally proceeds via researchers conducting experiments and then fitting several models to the data collected. However, such a process often includes conditions or paradigms that may not best arbitrate competing models: Many models make similar predictions under typical experimental conditions. Consequently, many experiments are needed, collectively (sub-optimally) sampling the space of conditions to compare models. Here, instead, we introduce a variant of optimal experimental design which we call a computational-rationality approach to generative models of cognition, using perceptual metacognition as a case study. Instead of designing experiments and post-hoc specifying models, we began with comprehensive model comparison among four competing generative models for perceptual metacognition, drawn from literature. By simulating a simple experiment under each model, we identified conditions where these models made maximally diverging predictions for confidence. We then presented these conditions to human observers, and compared the models’ capacity to predict choices and confidence. Results revealed two surprising findings: (1) two models previously reported to differently predict confidence to different degrees, with one predicting better than the other, appeared to predict confidence in a direction opposite to previous findings; and (2) two other models previously reported to equivalently predict confidence showed stark differences in the conditions tested here. Although preliminary with regards to which model is actually ‘correct’ for perceptual metacognition, our findings reveal the promise of this computational-rationality approach to maximizing experimental utility in model arbitration while minimizing the number of experiments necessary to reveal the winning model, both for perceptual metacognition and in other domains.