Agency and the Calibration of Motivated Behavior

Justin M. Moscarello, Catherine Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The controllability of positive or negative environmental events has long been recognized as a critical factor determining their impact on an organism. In studies across species, controllable and uncontrollable reinforcement have been found to yield divergent effects on subsequent behavior. Here we present a model of the organizing influence of control, or a lack thereof, on the behavioral repertoire. We propose that individuals derive a generalizable estimate of agency from controllable and uncontrollable outcomes, which serves to calibrate their behavioral strategies in a manner that is most likely to be adaptive given their prior experience. Across species, the ability to control important outcomes has a powerful effect on subsequent behavioral responses to environmental challenges.Recent convergent research in rodents and humans has provided a provisional model of the brain systems involved in the assessment of control and its alteration of ongoing behavior.This work suggests a plausible neural implementation of proposed psychological theories in which estimates of agency, derived from past experiences of control, are used to bias the organism toward proactive or reactive behavioral responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

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Calibration
Psychological Theory
Aptitude
Rodentia
Brain
Research
Reinforcement (Psychology)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Agency and the Calibration of Motivated Behavior. / Moscarello, Justin M.; Hartley, Catherine.

In: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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