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 contributionpeer-review

    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

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