Showing posts with label situated cognition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label situated cognition. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Bounded Rationality Meets Situated and Embodied Cognition



This post is by Enrico Petracca (University of Bologna), who recently published a paper entitled ‘A cognition paradigm clash: Simon, situated cognition and theinterpretation of bounded rationality’ in the Journal of Economic Methodology. Enrico is involved in a project called ‘embodied rationality’, and pursued with his colleague Antonio Mastrogiorgio (University of Chieti-Pescara). The project aims to integrate the notion of embodied cognition within the framework of bounded rationality.

Bounded rationality has been a hard-to-digest notion in economics and the other social sciences since its introduction by Herbert A. Simon in the middle of the last century. How could ‘rationality’ be ‘bounded’? And – as a typically related concern – would this imply that social sciences should abandon any normative horizon, giving the way to an unappealable ‘irrationality’?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Anhedonia and Situated Cognition

This post is by Alex Miller Tate (pictured below), PhD student at the University of Birmingham. His work investigates the nature of mental illness and emotion, using insights from research into Situated Cognition. His thesis examines the role that situated theories of cognition and emotion can play in explaining and describing various symptoms common in major depression.



Anhedonia is a core symptom of many Psychiatric conditions, most commonly presenting in patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder or schizophrenia (Oyebode, 2014). It is most commonly defined as an absent or diminished ability to experience pleasure from participating in previously enjoyable activities (Treadway & Zald, 2011: 538). As an example, somebody who used to enjoy playing football and listening to David Bowie, but no longer enjoys either of these things, may be said to be exhibiting Anhedonia.

One popular theory of Anhedonia, call it sustainability theory, argues that it is characterised by a diminished ability to sustain pleasurable responses to rewarding stimuli (Tomarken & Keener, 1998; Heller et al., 2009). The immediate response to a stimulus is relatively undiminished, but enjoyment cannot be sustained. My work aims, roughly, to bring the sustainability theory together with the Situated Cognition paradigm, to see what insights into Anhedonia a situated sustainability theory might offer.

My attempts to do this have centred around the notion of affective scaffolds; aspects of our environments that significantly shape our emotional experiences and dispositions (Griffiths & Scarantino, 2009). For instance, music at a funeral may be chosen so as to support the elicitation of sadness in the moment (a synchronic scaffold) and my emotional response of sadness at funerals is (in part) structured by what I have learned is socially expected of me at funerals (a diachronic scaffold).

I draw a comparison with studies that suggest that work classically attributed to internal cognitive processes is better thought of as being offloaded into the agent’s environment via bodily interaction. For instance, skilled bag packers in grocery stores in the USA arrange items spatially by category (heavy, fragile) as they come off the conveyor belt. This later allows for an optimal distribution of items across bags without placing an extreme load on working memory. We might think of the spatial arrangement of items as functioning as a cognitive scaffold for the bag packer; it is an external structure that greatly reduces the task-burden on internal cognitive resources.