Why do we do what we do? The attention-readiness-motivation framework
- According to many theories of motivation, the principal driver of human behavior is the valuation of actions. Actions are valued by computing the difference between stimulus value (the benefits and costs inherent in the stimulus outcome that is the expected result of a given action) and action costs (the effort required to perform that action). However, such accounts have difficulty explaining why individuals may act inconsistently in what appear to be comparable situations, and sometimes even act in ways that seem inconsistent with relevant action values. In this dissertation, I present the Attention-Readiness-Motivation (ARM) framework, according to which such behavioral anomalies occur because stimulus value and action costs are influenced by endogenous attention and action readiness -- variables that are typically not considered as a part of the valuation calculus. In Chapter 1, I introduce the ARM framework. In Chapter 2, I present a laboratory analogue of a common behavioral anomaly -- medical non-compliance. Medical non-compliance includes behaviors in which patients fail to take simple actions (e.g. taking a pill beneficial to their health) even though the failure to take such actions could have highly adverse consequences. In a series of laboratory experiments, I simulated these adverse consequences using a personally salient and highly aversive electric shock. The laboratory equivalent of taking a pill was to press an easily accessible button that was likely to preclude shock-related adverse consequences. When doing nothing was the status quo, participants frequently did not press a button that would have, for example, enabled them to avoid experiencing the shocks. Contrastingly, when participants were required to make a choice, they nearly always chose outcomes that did not lead to a shock. Yet, this apparent preference was not manifested in behavioral contexts in which a choice was not required. In Chapter 3, I investigate behavioral anomalies in the context of emotion regulation. I created a laboratory decision context in which participants watched a series of negatively valenced images, and in each case had the option of electing to reappraise in order to decrease negative affect. Given the many benefits and few costs associated with reappraisal, I expected that most images would be reappraised. However, participants implemented reappraisals for a small minority of images. However when the default (of doing nothing) was removed, participants chose to reappraise in many more trials. In Chapter 4, I sought to investigate the role of attention in explaining the types of behavioral anomalies described in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. Specifically, I sought to test whether failures to act in valued ways are in some cases caused by insufficient levels of orienting attention. I first created a scalable laboratory analogue of a behavioral anomaly, one in which participants persisted in viewing lower-valenced images even though they could have, at no cost, viewed a higher-valenced image. When I experimentally increased their orienting attention towards a caption stating they had the option to switch, participants more frequently elected to view the higher valenced image. In real-world behavioral contexts, increasing attention, without an apparent change in valuation, also led to increased levels of approach motivation in behavioral contexts involving purchasing apples and electing to take the stairs instead of the escalator. These studies suggested that endogenous attention plays an important role in motivated behavior. In Chapter 5, I investigated whether some behavioral anomalies may occur because action costs that objectively appear negligible may be consequential, and action costs that objectively appear identical may differently influence behavior. Such effects may occur because action costs are influenced by action readiness -- the ease with which an action may be initiated given the pre-action-launch state of the individual. On our account, if action readiness levels are low, even action costs that appear to be negligible can strongly affect behavioral outcomes. Similarly, action costs that appear to be identical may affect behavior differently because their action readiness may differ. I developed this proposition using the image-viewing decision context of Chapter 4 and a computational model. I conclude this dissertation by examining the elaborations and future directions related to the Attention-Readiness-Motivation (ARM) framework.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Psychology.
|Gross, James J
|Gross, James J
|Poldrack, Russell A
|Poldrack, Russell A
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Gaurav Ramesh Suri
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
Also listed in
Loading usage metrics...