Sources of information we use when reasoning about the causes of our behaviour
We do not commonly think about the causes of our behaviour in everyday life except when we have a relevant reason. Our interest in causes of our behaviour may be raised by researcher’s (or a therapist’s) question or by the situation when the motive of our action is critical, for example, for feelings of achievement or for evaluating our behaviour as moral. Attributed causes of our behaviour may not be the same as its real causes. We never know all the influences upon our behaviour. The process of reasoning about causes is an interpretative one and is affected not only by accessible information but also by the type of question asked, our education, defence mechanisms, our way of reasoning, etc. We often reason about these causes retrospectively and our reasoning is thus affected by memory deficiencies and by the way we choose which memories to deal with. Reasoning about causes is usually not a time-consuming rational process, when we consider all available information. We typically employ quicker and more effective heuristics, which is optimal because of the lack of time and cognitive processing resources available. Some information about the causes of our action is accessible to us only through introspection. Other information is possessed by other people, e.g. shared causal theories. We tend to overestimate introspective information because of its “authenticity”. Even though we may not know the crucial influences on our behaviour, this may not prevent us from being able to report on the causes and from being convinced that we know the actual causes. So it seems that it is not fundamental whether we become aware of the causal stimulus or not, but whether we believe that this stimulus influenced us.
(Fulltext in Czech)
Keywordscause of behaviour, causal reasoning, consciousness, controlled and automatic behaviour
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