[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

rayzam rayzam at home.com
Wed Oct 10 23:26:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Caliban Tiresias Darklock" <caliban at darklock.com>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "J Aitken" <djaitken at bigpond.net.au>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Ola Fosheim Grøstad" <olag at ifi.uio.no>
>>> rayzam wrote:

>>>> Actually, motivation in humans consists of performing an
>>>> action, often without knowing why, and then rationalizing it
>>>> afterwards. Or changing our beliefs based on the action we
>>>> performed. Motivation on the level you're talking about is
>>>> either hindsight, or repetition.

>>> This doesn't really make sense to me, maybe you have a
>>> reference.  If I am motivated to apply for school because I want
>>> to become a movie director, how is that related to what you just
>>> wrote?  Anyway, there is no single model of motivation, just
>>> like there is no single model or ontology for emotions...

>> Its a radical behaviourist perspective on human motivation, and
>> is not supported by many psychologists these days as a complete
>> explanation for human behaviour, although its certainly true for
>> _some_ situations.  If you want to know more, do a web search on
>> Skinner and Radical Behaviorism and you'll find something I'm
>> sure.

> The basics are pretty simple. When brain activity is monitored,
> every time someone makes a decision, part of the brain becomes
> active. So we said "there's the part that controls
> decisions". Then we paid closer attention and figured out that it
> becomes active AFTER the decision is made. So we said "oh, it's
> deciding why we did that". The belief was that you would take an
> action, then rationalise it after the fact to make sense of your
> own actions. Essentially, that would mean you never do anything
> for a reason, you just make up reasons for doing things after you
> do them.


> Once the actual cause is known (the laser), both propositions look
> like the ridiculous mistakes they are. But even without knowing
> the actual cause, it's reasonably obvious that both are founded on
> flawed logic, and cannot be considered truths in the absence of
> other evidence. It seems rather simple to find alternate reasons
> for activity in that part of the brain after a decision, such as
> anticipation of results or archival of memories. Why such
> alternatives were ignored is simply beyond me, and probably stems
> from the unwillingness of researchers to claim that some more
> illustrious personage in the field was probably wrong. 

Although that was an interesting example showing a logical fallacy,
that wasn't the issue. The ideas behind retrospective effects have
existed long before brain imaging. Though I do agree that the
indirect correlational nature of fMRI makes it difficult to make
those claims logically. Especially since the method is by nature, at
best correlational, at worst, confounded.

Many studies show a time-lag between both perception and conscious
awareness, and action and conscious awareness. This means that in
some situations, decisions are made before we think about them. Many
would call that running on instinct. What's interesting is that for
some actions that would cause physiological changes, the
physiological changes occur prior to the person reporting they made
the decision. What's more interesting is that we can, in some
situations, construct our decision based on just these physiological
changes. Giving someone a pill that makes their heart rate go up,
but tell them its something innocuous, will cause them to overrate
the emotional impact of images. On the flip side, give them a
placebo, but tell them it causes them the same physiological
response, then emotional scenes get rated as having much less
impact. Again, in these situations, we seem to query our bodies to
make a decision.

Furthermore, as stated, there is Radical Behaviorism and Skinner.

There is also cognitive dissonance: you do something that apparently
does not fit with your internal beliefs, and by doing that act, your
internal beliefs shift. Thus you are changing your motivations after
the fact to reduce the dissonance between your beliefs about
yourself/motivations and the act you committed. This is a widely
studied phenomenon in psychology. There is also the Fundamental
Attribution Error [tho this is tangential to the topic at hand]. You
see someone do something, and you attribute it to their internal
beliefs. However, if you're put in that place, you can see your
decision as being situational. Example: Boffo walks up to you while
you're talking to Joe. You try to introduce Boffo to Joe. Boffo
gives a curt hi, and walks away. Many people would attribute that to
Boffo not liking somethign about Joe. However, if you have someone
act out the role of Boffo, they often feel it was because Boffo was
in a rush, had somewhere else to be, etc.

There are better examples of all of these effects in the research
literature, I'm just giving some off-the-cuff examples of the

I do not believe these are logical fallacies, because you can
experimentally manipulate the underlying conditions, and change the
outcome in naive individuals. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite
of the brain imaging you're talkign about. In these cases, the
activity would occur prior to the subject being consciously aware of
making a decision.

A lot of cognition does occur at a non-conscious level or at least
there is a time-lag before we are aware of that cognition. In either
case, it suggests that, at least in these situations, we're not
making the decision consciously at the time the decision is made,
though we think we are.


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