Models of misbelief

Integrating motivational and deficit theories of delusions

Ryan Mckay*, Robyn Langdon, Max Coltheart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

Abstract

Humans are agents that want and like, and the impact of our desires and preferences upon our ordinary, everyday beliefs is well-documented (Gilovich, 1991). The influence of such motivational factors on delusions, which are instances of pathological misbelief, has tended however to be neglected by certain prevailing models of delusion formation and maintenance (e.g. Ellis and Young, 1990; Stone and Young, 1997; Davies & Coltheart, 2000; Langdon & Coltheart, 2000; Davies, Coltheart, Langdon & Breen, 2001). This paper explores a distinction between two general classes of theoretical explanation for delusions; the motivational and the deficit. Motivational approaches view delusions as extreme instances of self-deception; as defensive attempts to relieve pain and distress. Deficit approaches, in contrast, view delusions as the consequence of defects in the normal functioning of belief mechanisms, underpinned by neuroanatomical or neurophysiological abnormalities. It is argued that although there are good reasons to be sceptical of motivational theories (particularly in their more floridly psychodynamic manifestations), recent experiments confirm that motives are important causal forces where delusions are concerned. It is therefore concluded that the most comprehensive account of delusions will involve a theoretical unification of both motivational and deficit approaches. An attempt is made to develop just such a rapprochement, taking as its point of departure a current cognitive neuropsychiatric model of delusion formation, the two-deficit model of Coltheart, Langdon, Davies and Breen.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAISB'05 Convention: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Symposium on Agents that Want and Like: Motivational and Emotional Roots of Cognition and Action
EditorsWilliam P. Banks, Bernard J. Baars, Bruce Bridgeman, James T. Enns
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherThe Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour
Pages76-83
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)1902956417
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventAISB'05 Convention: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents - Symposium on Agents that Want and Like: Motivational and Emotional Roots of Cognition and Action - Hatfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Apr 200515 Apr 2005

Other

OtherAISB'05 Convention: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents - Symposium on Agents that Want and Like: Motivational and Emotional Roots of Cognition and Action
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityHatfield
Period12/04/0515/04/05

    Fingerprint

Cite this

Mckay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2005). Models of misbelief: Integrating motivational and deficit theories of delusions. In W. P. Banks, B. J. Baars, B. Bridgeman, & J. T. Enns (Eds.), AISB'05 Convention: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents: Proceedings of the Symposium on Agents that Want and Like: Motivational and Emotional Roots of Cognition and Action (pp. 76-83). United Kingdom: The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour.