Ways of deliberately changing the meaning of actions
We will look for a mechanism for replenishment of the impulse deficiency (or inhibition of excess) in the very process (mechanism) of generating motivation for action. Our task is to identify such a link in this process of motivation, arbitrarily regulating which by its intention, a person can change the motivation for action.
This link can be the meaning of the goal and action. The point is that the initiation of action is possible only because the meaning of the action carries the impetus from the actualized need and its subject (motive, according to AN Leontiev) to the goal, and only therefore this action can begin to be performed - the purpose of the action temporarily acquires the meaning of the object needs, for which the action is committed, and action is a temporary, situational meaning of activity.
Our hypothesis is that volitional regulation is carried out through deliberate conscious change in the meaning of the action or through the creation of a new, additional sense of action, when the first meaning forces the action to be executed, and the second intentionally created compensates for the lack of motivation.
Analysis of literary data allowed, first, to confirm the possibility and facts of deliberate intentional change in the meaning of the action, and secondly, to highlight the eight ways changes in the meaning of actions.
The first way is to intentionally overestimate the significance of the motive. I recall that the meaning of the action (according to AN Leontiev) is determined by the relation of the purpose of the action to the motive, when the goal becomes for man not only the future result, but the temporary representative of the motive. A weak attraction for a human motive makes this process of sense formation more difficult or speeds up it with a significant motive. Intentional understatement or exaggeration of the significance of the motive through discrediting the positive properties of the motive or attributing to it positive properties, attracting other people's estimates for this (it is not without reason that they say that asking for advice is to seek confirmation from others for their desires and decisions), can change the meaning of the action and its attractiveness . This mechanism is similar to the process of removing cognitive dissonance (this concept will be studied in the course of social psychology).
To. Levin described the behavior of a boy who unexpectedly discovered a cookie in his room. The boy wanted to eat this cookie, but he knew that he would be punished for it. And then he convinced himself that the cookies are hard and tasteless and therefore it should not be eaten.
The second way changes the meaning of the action or creates an additional meaning is to change the role or position of the person in the team.
L. S. Vygotsky conducted a study of the ability of children with different levels of intellectual development to follow the orders of an adult to take action after this action became not interesting for the child and was terminated. Children were asked to write wands, hooks and circles and after they stopped this work, the adult asked to perform these actions again. Under different important pretexts, children refused to do it. One boy could not come up with a good reason and simply referred to the fatigue of the hand. Then the adult asked him to teach to write these sticks, hooks and circles of a small boy who did it badly (while praising the elder for skill). And the tired boy, who had just refused to fulfill the adult's request to work, began to show the little boy how to write the letter elements. Vygotsky asks the question: "What happened to the boy who just refused to write on?" and replies: "The meaning of what the boy is doing has changed. He now does not write wands, but "works as a teacher" and the meaning of the action has become different. Motivation to action now comes from another motive. " In a study AI Lipkina, performed in one of the schools, lagging behind in school, senior students were instructed to help the same lagging in school junior high school students. Those high school students who accepted this assignment began not only to study the material of junior classes, and, having eliminated their knowledge gaps, work hard on the program of their class. In their own eyes, they ceased to be lagging behind, and took the position of a teacher, thereby changing the meaning of their work on textbooks.
The third way is based on the use of predictions (forecasts, representations) and experiences of the consequences of their actions (or refusals from them). Vysotsky's work described the behavior of a girl who feared darkness and therefore refused a sick mother in a request to bring her jam from the cellar (it was already evening). But, imagining the situation of deterioration of the mother's health, and perhaps death, the girl overcame her fear and descended into the cellar. P. V. Simonov colorfully described his experiences during the first jump with a parachute. He overcame his fear, imagining himself shamefully coming from the plane past his friends who would look at him like a coward.
The fourth way is characterized by the combination of a given and taken to execution action with new motives that are significant for a person (gaming, research, duty, honor, checking oneself for endurance, etc.). These new motives do not have their own material result and therefore are not visible to others. Children who refused to collect toys scattered around the room can be organized for this work if it is presented as a necessary part of some fascinating game.
The fifth way is the binding of the given action with the possibility after its completion to do what you want. For example, a game of football or hockey can be held only after preparing all the tasks from the school or doing some household chores. The difference from the fourth method is that there the new motive is achieved through a given action, here the given action only opens the possibility to perform its own, desired.
The Sixth Way provides a new meaning of action by including a given action in another, wider but content and more meaningful for the person. For example, older children are instructed to cut paper strips, and then again ask them to cut in order to make toys for them from small children. The results of the work in the second case change drastically.
The seventh way changes the meaning of actions is to turn to symbols, rituals, to other people for support in action. As an example, you can call the removal of the banner before the battle, treatment in prayers to God before the upcoming test, etc.
The eighth way is binding actions with vows and promises to other people and god, comparing yourself with heroes (real and literary), self-acceptance and self-congratulation, self-orders and self-empathy.
Behind these methods, people's real relationships are hidden in the situations examined, and these methods are first used (before habits) with the help of other people who organize the necessary situations, and only then independently.
A person can make extensive use of his imagination, creating imaginary situations in his mind, helping to change the meaning of actions. For example, one participant marathon run already wanted to get off the track, but he pictured himself as a long distance train and mentally moved around the country from city to city, which allowed him to overcome difficulties and reach the finish line with a good result. Often sportsmen use the reception of competition with an imaginary rival. In these cases, the external observer does not see the inner work that a person does in terms of consciousness, taking results as a result of the person's pure will.
All described methods are applied in a situation that is usually described through volitional efforts. Indeed, this is a person's use of peculiar "motivational crutches for the performance of actions that are personally necessary, but motivationally not provided in this particular situation.
But a person can have so-called personal volitional qualities, which, without any additional efforts on his part, ensure the execution of necessary actions. Initially, these actions are performed according to the requirements of other people (adults), and only then for their own personal values. In repetitive situations, episodic ways of volitional regulation are automated, becoming motivational attitudes that manifest themselves as different volitional qualities. Such attitudes are determined by personal values - a sense of duty, honor, help to others, responsibility to others, etc. In situations that require the manifestation of these personalities (personal values), they become regulators of behavior, taking on the role of motives that are not visible from the side.
L. de Saint-Exupery recalls the story of his friend Guillaume, survived the plane crash over the mountains, from which he without food and fire, went out to the people in the snow. Guillaume told me that often there was a state when I wanted to lie down in the snow and not get up any more (that is, fatigue was knocking out the fear of death). And only a sense of responsibility before his wife and children forced him to go forward, closer to people, so that they could quickly find his body (according to the law, his wife and children of the deceased pilot were appointed only after his body was found or four years after the loss ). It was about Guillaume that A. de Saint-Exupery said: "His greatness is in the consciousness of responsibility." The same thought was expressed by Prevost, another fellow Saint Exupery, when they had an accident and were in the desert: "If I were alone in the world, I would lay down and never get up."
These situations do not exclude the use of various methods of deliberate situational (episodic) volitional regulation, but they allow us to talk about a strong-willed personality, i.e. about a person acting on the basis of faith, love, duty, honor, conscience, responsibility, in other words, on the basis of stable moral personalities.
The analysis of literary data has shown that an appeal to the meaning of actions and events, to personal values in the regulation of volitional choice, various mental processes and executive actions is constantly used by a person in situations that create the need for voluntary regulation. From personal experience, people know how difficult it is to force yourself to study a text that is not of interest. We can force ourselves to read it (arbitrary regulation), but at the same time, there is no work of consciousness with the text, and often we are not even able to say what we have been reading in a few seconds. To begin the work of consciousness over the text, it is necessary that reading the text had some sense for the person. "Katorga is not where they work as a pickaxe," wrote A. de Saint-Exupéry. "It's terrible not because it's hard work." The canthrog is where the blows of the picks are meaningless ...
We tried to find an explanation for one of the realities generating the problem of will. Perhaps our explanation of the mechanism for generating volitional action is incomplete. It is possible that the true explanation lies in another area or not only in changing the meaning of actions. For us, fundamentally important is another - we tried to solve a real problem, and did not seek an answer to the question about the nature of will - the theoretical construct that Aristotle proposed to explain volitional actions.
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