Emotionally governed, expectancy biased adaptive control is a suitable, non-conscious control architecture for the intentional processes of mind. The argument is as follows: (a) A control architecture for competent processing, expectancy biased adaptive control, is exposed. This architecture is a credible result of natural selection, and exhibits weak and strong intention. (b) The empirical literature on emotion is reviewed in terms of the expectancy biased adaptive control architecture, to argue that emotions are control signals that appraise circumstances' urgency, category, harm, benefit and uncertainty, in order to interrupt activities, regulate goal selection and modulate rate of settling. (c) The bridging concept of motivation is introduced to argue that, as control signals with the causal force to govern orderly processing in response to change, emotions supply the motive force to effect the content of intentions. (d) Reflectively conscious volition, one source of intentions but also a slow, encumbering and thus not the primary source of intentions, is one of many competing sources of demands impinging upon and resolved by the emotionally governed control system.
These robots are like sophisticated dogs, having neither reflective consciousness nor the capacity for natural language. The robots adapt to humans' behavior, including signaling productions, in a stimulus-response, Chinese room way--that is, forming what Searle (1997) calls regulative ascription of correlation and causality rather than ascription or constitutive assignment of function. As drawn, the robots are consistent with Searle's (1992) assertion--and psychological data--that reflective consciousness is distinct from motor activity.
Yet these robots do not conform to Searle's ontological binding in which the contents of intention are inherently the product of reflective consciousness. Without reflective consciousness, the robots are displaying weak, strong and intrinsic intention (Dennett, 1996). The robots exhibit the syntax of purposiveness (weak intention), in that the content of the robots behavior is to persist in pursuing a constant outcome across varied situations using progressively efficient means. Indeed, without forming a theory of the miners' minds, the robots exhibit autonomous real-time recognition of and co-adaptation with the co-adapting intentions of others. The robots are also exhibiting the semantics of aboutness (strong intention), in that their local, gold-acquiring activity is in the service of a global goal, the content of which is to self-replicate. Finally, even if the intent to self-replicate was initially extrinsic, deriving from the robots' creators, the robots' intent is now intrinsic, since the content of creators' intentions does not include that the robots enslave people like miners to extract gold--or enslave robot makers to enhance the robots' capabilities. Each robot has an intentional, motivated mind in relation to the minds around it, as surely as a pet dog has an intentional mind in pursuit and defense of a tummy-scratch, a bone, a mate or its puppies. These robots, like pet dogs, are intentional but not reflectively conscious.
This paper presents an architecture for the intentional underpinnings of mind. The intentional contents of mind are not inherently a product of reflective, volitional consciousness but rather are any contents that become embodied in and effected by emotional control signals. Emotional control, and the intentional contents that emotions effect, are predominantly automatic and only sometimes influenced by conscious volition.
The argument is made in four broad strokes. (a) A control architecture for competent processing, expectancy biased adaptive control, is exposed. This architecture is a credible result of natural selection, and exhibits weak and strong intention. (b) The empirical literature on emotion is reviewed in terms of the expectancy biased adaptive control architecture, to show that emotions can credibly be conceptualized to be those control signals that appraise changing circumstances and regulate response. (c) The bridging concept of motivation is introduced, in order to argue that intrinsic intention and the intrinsic component of all motivation are subsumed in a single ontological category. As control signals with the causal force to govern orderly processing in response to change, emotions supply the motive force to effect the content of intentions. (d) Reflective consciousness is not needed in an architecture in which emotions motivate the realization of intentions. To the contrary, reflective processes can be slow enough as to maladaptively undermine responsiveness, were the deployment of consciousness not at the service of the control architecture. Conscious volition is one of many competing sources of demands to be resolved by the emotionally governed control system.
Emotionally governed, expectancy biased adaptive control is thus a suitable, non-conscious control architecture for the intentional processes of mind.
One predicate for adaptive competence is a context of sufficient regularity to which to adapt. The least restrictive assumption of regularity is that the context exhibits stochastic variation, that is, random variation bounded by a probability distribution. If unbounded random variation is permitted, then regularity, form, order, discernible meaning and adaptation are not possible.
Adaptive competence occurs when ordered, regular and meaningfully patterned relations--standards of competence--are maintained in relation to some stochastically varying context, despite the stochastic pressure of irregularity and disorder that increases error and degrades order and discernible meaning. Adaptively competent management of stochastic variation is the problem to be solved.
Adaptive competence is an information processing problem, since information theory characterizes order (redundancy), and how order is preserved during processing and transmission, despite systematic, stochastic and random variation (entropy) that would degrade order. Information processing is a functional description of what an adaptively competent entity must do to manage stochastic variation.
Control signals are those which cause processing to occur at the time that it occurs. In any information processing architecture, competent control manages stochastic variation by causing correct processing to occur at a correct time or in a correct sequence.
Self-regulation names a class of information processing architectures that accomplish goals and standards (e.g., standards of competence) by iterative approximation, that is, by iterative reduction of error, typically in operating environments that exhibit continuous stochastic variation. A self-regulatory architecture is therefore a natural candidate for adaptively competent information processing.
Disparities (plus or minus) from timetable in the local process become positive feedback events that demand reconsideration of activities by the global process. Reconsideration by the global process can select, new goals and timetables to be fed-forward to the local process, as well as dampening of the local process' sensitivity to disparity (error).
Current goals: Local goals and standards are a (fed-forward) reference from the global process to the local process' goal-accomplishing negative feedback loop. Synchronizing timetables provide a (fed-forward) reference to the local process' positive feedback loop.
Recognition of contingency: As accomplishment of goals goes off synchronization (which includes going off goal), the positive feedback loop amplifies the disparity from timetable (with exponential gain in emergencies).
Urgency: Positive feedback events from the local process are an interrupting control signal to the global process. The urgency of events is signaled in both the intensity and the rate of onset of the positive feedback signal. Allocation of processing bandwidth is dynamically prioritized based on the urgency of all new events relative to that of all current activities. Lower priority events are queued, and eventually decay.
Category: For an event of sufficient priority vis à vis current activities, basic categorization of the event partitions memory access. Partitioning speeds processing, by reducing the amount of memory to be scanned, and by restricting the pallette of options retrieved for ranking.
Response evaluation: The valence of the positive feedback, positive and negative, signals current harm and benefit, which is global negative feedback with respect to the global reference to avoid harm, worst harm first, and to attain benefit. Current harm and benefit are considered in light of the bias of expected harm and benefit, in order to rank and select among response options.
Next goals: The selected response and the nominal timetable on which it should occur both feedforward reference information to the local process, giving the local process goals/standards/timetables to accomplish next.
Settling: The selected response's goodness-of-fit to circumstances, the individual's confidence in her or his ability to execute the response, and the cost of errors are all factored into the generation of a dampening signal. The dampening signal controls the local process' sensitivity to error. Sensitivity to error modulates the rate of settling on responses by controlling the amount of error-checking done, and thus also the hysteresis that controls the likelihood of further positive feedback events.
2.3.3 Expectancy Bias
The proposed adaptive control architecture is biased by expectancies for the practicable--maximum attainable benefit and minimum unavoidable harm. This pair of expectancies imposes an actuarially sound economy on patterns of response, by filtering out impracticable responses during real-time response selection: Resources are not wasted, vainly attempting to pursue what is expected to be unattainable or to avoid what is expected to be inevitable. Response is thus biased toward what is expected to be practicable and economical.
Because of their response characteristics--stability in the face of transients, some sensitivity to enduring change and zeroes that effect a reset--infinite impulse response filters (IIRs) (Hamming, 1989) model expectancies for the practicable, inputting experienced harm and benefit events. The economy consequently imposed, albeit very idiosyncratically tailored to the individual's adaptive niche, is typically tenable in stable niches, and stable enough to ignore transient changes. Yet IIR-expectancies are flexible enough to be responsive to some changing trends in circumstances.
Herein, 'emotion' is used as the superordinate term, applicable to all realized and expected
valence states that typically appraise harm and benefit. Realized valence that appraises realized
harm and benefit is realized emotion. Expected valence that appraises expected harm and benefit
is expected emotion. This is not to say that emotion encodes only valence; to the contrary,
emotions typically encode many forms of appraisal, as described below. Rather, valenced
appraisal of harm and benefit is the defining characteristic of (necessary and sufficient for)
emotion. Emotions include valence states of any duration, from micro-momentary to lifespan.
Emotions also include valence states of any abstraction, from hunger and pain, through fear,
anger and happiness, to embarrassment, malaise and ennui.
In two regions of the brain that are very separate, both physically and functionally, dramatic degradation of motivation and organization is observed when the brain's capacity for orderly emotional processing is damaged. (a) Lesions that include the amygdala and some surrounding tissue can flatten emotional response and disable the regulation of attention, disrupting the process of salience (LeDoux, 1992). (b) Lesions to the prefrontal lobes that disable the operation of emotions also disable the organization of motivation and behavior (Damasio, 1994). People with prefrontal lesions behave exactly like programmed control systems with control signal failure: They have procedural knowledge intact, but without operational emotions, cannot provide real-time control to behavior to execute knowledge.
The fact of two independent points of failure militates against coincidental co-location of emotion and control. While not in itself definitive evidence for the necessity of emotion for control, it is strong evidence for the reasonableness of a hypothesis of necessity.
Dynamic Prioritization: Events of unequal priority yield a single emotion that reflects and focuses on the event of highest priority (Frijda, 1988). All lower priority events are queued, to be serviced after higher priority events, or else decaying from the queue as emotions decay. Events of equal priority can result in multiple, simultaneous "mixed" and possibly conflicting emotions.
Utility: Neurologically, the evaluation of stimuli (Davidson, 1992) and utility (Ito & Cacioppo, 1999) is encoded in emotional valence, biased toward aversion to the risk of negative emotions (Ito, Larsen, Smith & Cacioppo, 1998). Behaviorally, in ranking the utility of harm and benefit, contrary to prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1990), people avoid the negative emotion of regret associated with a loss, not the loss per se (Larrick, 1993). Regret avoidant options may be either risk avoidant or risk taking (Zeelenberg & van Dijk, 1997).
Negative emotion aversion: Regret is not the only strong aversion. Before people accept helplessness, they exhibit reactance (Brehm & Sensenig, 1966). Avoidance of anxiety is a powerful motivator (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1995). Shame avoidance increases aggression and narrows peoples' focus so that they do not take the perspectives of others, harming relationships (Tangney, Wagner, Hill-Barlow, Marschall & Gramzow, 1996). Abandonment and betrayal are also worst emotions that people typically avoid systematically.
Automaticity: The avoidance of worst emotions is often so automatic and so successful as often to occur completely outside of consciousness. For example, when people get dressed to go out at the start of their day, most do not give any conscious attention, thought or feeling to the fact that they are doing so, in part, to avoid the shame of going naked in a clothed world. Yet most people are immediately alarmed and avoidant at the suggestion.
Confidence: The individual's level of confidence reflects her or his belief (a) that the selected response is a certain fit to circumstances, (b) that the task difficulty is within capabilities and (c) that the cost of likely errors is affordable. The greater the individual's confidence, the more certain and compelling is the response, and thus the more dampened the individual's sensitivity to error and the more efficient the settling. After people select how to respond, their natural predilection is to be confident that they can implement their decision successfully (Taylor & Gollwitzer, 1995).
Uncertainty and anxiety: As the selected response is a poor or uncertain fit, as the response taxes abilities, or as the cost of errors increases, confidence lowers and anxiety increases. The greater the individual's anxiety and uncertainty, the less dampened is the sensitivity to error and either the slower and less efficient the settling, or else the more erratic the settling as time pressure increases. Anxiety reflects uncertainty (Epstein & Roupenian, 1970; Feather, 1963, 1965; Wright, 1984). Tolerable levels of both uncertainty (Siegman & Pope, 1965) and anxiety (Gray, 1990) slow settling. As stress increases, people make and consider fewer distinctions, rushing to settle before they have considered all available alternatives (Keinan, Friedland & Arad, 1991).
Settling strategies: Life is often very uncertain, and errors often costly, militating against easy settling. Yet competent settling demands a dampening function that modulates settling to match circumstances' rate of change. Failure to settle in time is often catastrophic, making it credible that natural selection would favor a design that creates punishing internal pressure to settle.
Faced with a punishing emotional dampening mechanism, people compromise on a preferred settling style. Sorrentino (e.g., Sorrentino, Holmes, Hanna & Sharp, 1995) has found that some people ignore anxiety-raising discrepancies, settling rapidly, even prematurely, with certainty and confidence, and cleaving their social universe into trustworthy or not. Others have evenly modulated anxiety, error-checking and settling, taking in more information and subjecting it to more careful scrutiny, but seldom establishing a more than moderately trusting position.
Still others stay chronically anxious and inefficient, settling erratically. The chronically anxious prefer a narrow focus (Stoeber, 1996) on possible error at the expense of sometimes-important information. Anxious focus is biased toward the processing of threat, much of which is minor in nature, to which anxious people are more attentive, by which they are more distracted (McNally, 1996) and about which they ruminate. Worriers have low tolerance for uncertainty, are disproportionately sensitive to uncertainty, and expect uncertainty to bring failure (Shimkunas, 1970).
Valence expectancy is usually a cognitive construct, e.g., self-esteem, possible self, ideal vs. ought self, prevention vs. promotion focus, or dispositional optimism vs. pessimism. However, all of these valenced constructs are predicated upon a common pair of underlying emotional expectancies. Maximum attainable benefit is the expectancy for the threshold beyond which benefit and positive emotion are not practicably attainable. Minimum unavoidable harm is the expectancy for the threshold below which harm and negative emotion are inevitable, vs. worse, avoidable harm and emotion.
People maintain expectancies for both positive and negative emotion (Marshall, Wortman, Kusulas, Hervig. & Vickers, 1992), each with a distinct neurological basis (Davidson, 1993) Emotional expectancy comprises an assessed emotional trend, predicted from emotional events whenever they occur in an interval, with discrepant samples being ignored if they do not reflect the kind of trend that signals possible enduring change (Varey & Kahneman, 1992). Consistent with the smoothing of IIR output, emotional output is stably positive and negative over long intervals of time (Watson & Clark, 1984).
Emotional expectancies also stabilize patterns of emotional and behavioral response. People with high negative affectivity tend to experience stable discomfort, independent of time, situation or identifiable stressors (Watson & Walker, 1996). Pessimists tend to expect to feel worse, to experience lower life satisfaction and more depressive symptoms (Chang, Maydeu-Olivares & D'Zurilla, 1997) and to be more vulnerable to making negative self-assessments (Brown & Mankowski, 1993). The converse is true for optimistic people.
Emotional expectancies are often self-reinforcing. Optimists tend to stay socially engaged and focused on hopeful aspects of circumstances, while pessimists are likely to focus on stressful aspects of circumstances and to disengage from problems (Scheier, Weintraub & Carver, 1986). Keeping resources focused on problems for longer, an optimistic strategy is stochastically more likely to produce solutions and expectancy-reinforcing positive emotion. The pessimist withdraws resources sooner, increasing the risk of failure and expectancy-reinforcing negative emotion.
Emotional expectancies can be so stable and self-reinforcing that idiosyncratic patterns of
response, tailored to one adaptive niche, often persist when the niche changes or when the
individual is transplanted to another niche. Miscontextualized adaptations and coping strategies
often persevere as overly stable, even rigidly psychopathological, individual differences.
Although individual competence is not best served by such rigidity, the species' genetic fitness
can benefit. The broad pallette of individuals' strategies available at any point in time increases
the likelihood that some individuals will be well suited to new circumstances, when
When dramatic life change results in enduringly different emotions, patterns of emotional expectancy can change. For example, falling in love heightens positive emotional expectancy--which typically then decays as romance cools and expectancies are not refreshed with enduring, strong positive emotions. Traumatic events and their sequellae often generate enduring emotional change that heightens negative emotional expectancies.
Surprise accompanied by sustained interest resets expectancies (that is, surprise is a zero of the IIR, driving IIR output to zero, no expectancy). Thereafter, expectancies assume values from post-surprise emotional events. At onset, the surprising stimulus is persistently salient (Meyer, Niepel, Rudolph, & Schuetzwohl, 1991). Processing slows, as people allocate processing resources for an attributional search (Stiensmeier-Pelster, Martini & Reisenzein, 1995). If attribution fails, one of three outcomes occurs. (a) The uninterpretable event is deemed unimportant and is ignored. (b) The uninterpretable event is deemed to have potentially catastrophic significance, provokes significant anxiety, and a defense is quickly settled upon. (c) An event that is deemed important but not catastrophically threatening, provokes at most tolerable anxiety and also sustained interest. This third type of surprise event, a "disturb-then-reframe" protocol, causes expectancies to take on new values (Davis & Knowles, 1999). Surprise and interest may also promote change in psychotherapy (Omer, 1990). The growing trust in a therapeutic alliance can be understood both to increase sensitivity to emotion by lowering the noise of anxiety, and to increase the tolerability of emotion, thus stochastically increasing the likelihood of transformative surprise events in treatment.
While not agreeing on the determinants of motivation, psychologists generally agree on the necessity of motivation: Without motivation, competently organized behavior is unlikely to occur on a sustained basis. While much motivation has extrinsic determinants, this paper takes the position that all motivation has a necessary intrinsic component that appraises the significance of extrinsic factors, in order to control the organization of behavior consistent with the content of intrinsic signification. For example, confronted with an extrinsic like a snake during a stroll, most people will be motivated to step around it, whereas a phobic might be motivated to leave the area, while a herpetologist might be motivated to pick up the snake and study it. To be realized, all motivation is implemented by an intrinsic motive force that effects the contents of intrinsic signification.
This decomposition of motivation suggests that the intrinsic component of motivation and intrinsic intention comprise a single ontological category. Organization of behavior: Both weak intention and intrinsic motivational components result in organized behavior with respect to changing circumstances. Content of motivation/intention: The content of a strong intention's aboutness is a motive's intrinsic significance. To say that a person is motivated or intends to step around a snake is to say that the detour is about avoiding the snake. Intrinsic locus: Both intrinsic intention and the intrinsic component of motivation assure aboutness rather than tropism. Stepping around the snake is both motivated and intentional behavior about avoiding the snake, because avoiding the snake is in the service of an intrinsic motive and intention, viz., avoiding harms and attaining benefits as the individual construes them.
Emotions are ontologically bound to intrinsic intention/motivation, because emotions are the control signals that appraise intrinsic significance and effect the contents of intrinsic intention/motivation. Content of emotion: From the onset of change to settling on a response, emotions appraise the significance of changing circumstances, in terms of their urgency, category, harm benefit, and uncertainty. From these appraisals, emotions organize cognition and behavior to be about avoidance of harms and attainment of benefits. Intrinsic locus: Emotions organize cognition and behavior in the service of an intrinsic motive/intention: To avoid what are expected to be negative emotions, worst emotions first, and to attain what are expected to be positive emotions. To the extent that emotions, realized and expected, accurately appraise harms and benefits, realized and expected, the favorable regulation of future emotions regulates future competence by proxy. Emotions, as internal control signals with causal force, automate and effect the contents of intentions with motive force.
With its flexible context (option) generation, its insight into the distant future, and as keeper of the broader social and moral contract, conscious volition can sometimes overcome an immediate and short-sighted impulse by injecting internal percepts of long term consequences, both of the impulse and of alternative behavioral pathways. However, if, relative to other contingencies impinging on the emotional control system, volitional percepts do not invoke emotions of sufficient priority to hold attention and to motivate behavior, consciousness is of little controlling effect. Reflective consciousness and its volition are secondary, modulator functions. The intrinsic intention to use current and expected emotions favorably to regulate future emotions, and by proxy future competence, is primary.
Largely automatically, emotions govern the human mind's information processing with motive force, controlling salience, priority, patterns of response, confidence and disposition so as to co-adapt with changing circumstances. Favored by natural selection--both because (a) emotions typically position individuals adequately competently and because (b) emotions' idiosyncrasy promotes individual differences, creating a broad, risk-reducing pool of strategies for the species--emotions are control signals that govern the regulation of behavior and future emotions. Emotions mediate, motivate and organize adaptive competence, such that individuals avoid harms and attain benefits as their emotions appraise them. Emotions thereby automate, realize and signal the contents of the mind's intentions.
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