The Co-evolution of Concepts and Motivation
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Does the human mind contain evolved concepts? Many psychologists have doubted this or have investigated only a narrow set of concepts (e.g., object, number, cause). Does the human mind contain evolved motivational systems? Many more assent to this claim, holding that there are evolved motivational systems for, among other tasks, social affiliation, aggressive competition, and avoiding predation. An emerging research program, however, reveals that these are not separate questions. Any evolved motivational system needs a wealth of conceptual structures that tether the motivations to real-world entities. For instance, what use is a fear of predators without knowing what predators are and how to respond to them effectively? As we illustrate with case studies of cooperation and conflict, there is no motivation without representation: To generate adaptive behavior, motivational systems must be interwoven with the concepts required to support them and cannot be understood without explicit reference to those concepts.
Current Directions in Psychological Science
Andrew W. Delton and Aaron Sell, The Co-Evolution of Concepts and Motivation, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 23(2) 115–120, 2014. Copyright 2014 The Authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Criminology not elsewhere classified
Cognitive Science not elsewhere classified