Basic Processes of Learning, Cognition, and Motivation

Basic Processes of Learning, Cognition, and Motivation

Basic Processes of Learning, Cognition, and Motivation

Basic Processes of Learning, Cognition, and Motivation

Excerpt

The main objective of this book is to provide a hard-headed theoretical integration of several different major areas of research on learning, cognition, and motivation in humans and other mammals. By hard-headed, I simply mean that the concepts were generated from empirical data and are testable. Since an integrative theory must of necessity integrate apparent diversity, such an approach involves the identification and description of the most fundamental factors (structural processes) underlying the observed capacities of humans and animals in the domain of learning and motivation.

Several major tenets have guided my efforts. First, I feel that there is safety in numbers. I have not relied on the results from an individual study unless there are multiple confirmations of its basic findings. Essentially, I have followed the logic of metaanalysis in formulating the present concepts. When the signal to noise ratio is low and your measurement techniques have uncertain reliability, the results of many studies considered together are likely to be more illuminating and conclusive than any single study, no matter how well conducted.

Second, I have always tried to consider behavioral data in the light of what is known at the neurological level and vice versa. In my view, a hypothesized structural process should always be neurologically plausible as well as providing an explanation of behavioral or memorial phenomena. One advantage of this requirement is to limit the number of possible alternatives to the hypothesized process. In addition, congruence between neurological and behavioral data decreases the odds that some experimental artifact is being reified as a psychological process.

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