Functions of Varied Experience

Functions of Varied Experience

Functions of Varied Experience

Functions of Varied Experience

Excerpt

This book is about varied experience, its effects on organisms, and the functions it serves. Variation in experience comes from the changes occurring from moment to moment in the environment, both external and internal. These changes are produced not only by external forces but also by the behavior of the organism. Variation is the normal condition. It is so ubiquitous that its significance is often overlooked. Indeed, most psychological theory ignores it and most psychological experiments are designed to minimize its unwanted effects.

The purpose of this book is to consider the functions that this experienced variation serves in the organism's development, in its interaction with the environment, and in the affective experience of man. Some of the topics in this volume are rather familiar: for example, the variability of behavior seen in exploring and alternating responses. Examples of less familiar topics are sleep and aesthetic appreciation. It is our conviction that, in spite of this marked diversity, each chapter is relevant to the notion of varied experience.

The list of subjects examined in the different chapters is itself quite varied. In addition, the nature of the problem considered by each chapter and the state of knowledge in that area has in part determined the particular approach taken by its author. The multiple authorship has increased the heterogeneity still further by introducing a range of styles and technical levels. As the reader progresses through this book, we trust that the variation he encounters will contribute to his interest and enjoyment, especially as he notes the common elements and themes underlying the diversity. Since this volume is intended for people with some knowledge of psychology, the uniformity of style desirable in an introductory textbook has been given up in favor of the diversified individual styles of the specialists who have contributed chapters.

The wide range of topics included should not lead the reader to expect a comprehensive account of behavior. The book is not a treatise in general psychology but rather a consideration of those aspects of . . .

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