How Well Do People Know Why They Do the Things They Do

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By ks0929
Words 2301
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How well do people know why they do the things they do?


Human beings are cognitively advanced, yet it is still surprising that much of what we do we cannot explain. Humans are amongst few mammals capable of the self-recognition necessary for self-awareness which enables conscious manipulation in behaviour (Gallup, G. G., 1982). Understanding the behaviour of others and ourselves is increasingly complex since behaviour is attributed to fluctuating mental states (emotions, desires, feelings). Many papers have begun to cover the theory how people understand the causes of behaviour through attribution and self-concept (Kelley, H. H.1973);(Heider, F. 1958);(Markus, H., & Wurf, E, 1987). But conflicting papers have given rise to the argument of error in attributions, experience distortion and group-think to consider the other face of the coin- that people may not know quite so well why they do the things they do (Heider, 1958);(Kurzban & Aktipis, 2007);(Sherif, 1936)

“Theory of the mind”/“mentalizing” is a process which we naturally engage with on a daily basis. It identifies that other people have mental states different to our own (Schacter, 2009). The recognition of mental state (e.g. noticing your partner is unhappy) is something which adults naturally perceive. This skill is essential for social interaction and is observable in infants as young as 18 months (Frith, C. D., & Frith, U, 1999);(U. & C.D. Frith, 2003). From the age of 4-6 neurotypical children are able to consciously and reflectively think about the behaviour of people and “put themselves in someone else's shoes” (U. & C.D. Frith, 2003);(Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U., 1985). The ability for people to mentalize is crucial in order to understand why other people do the things they do- by…...

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