Mind content revisited

We propose that the three domains of knowledge are represented across the various representational formats in similar ways. If we consider knowledge of the world as an example, we propose that abstract models of the world, such as the world as a safe place, would be represented at the schematic model level {WORLD - SAFE PLACE}. However, less abstracted information about the world, such as the fact that the chances of being mugged alone in Central Park at night are high, would be represented at the propositional level. Other forms of knowledge of the world might be represented analogically, such as the shape and form of visual objects, sounds, smells, or visual memories of places and events. The first important point is that representations of information in memory are possible in all three representational formats for all content types. Furthermore, as the examples illustrate, it is possible for information at one level to contradict information at other levels.

We have proposed that cutting across the domains of information about the self and information about others there is information concerning goals both of the self and of others in our lives. This suggestion of a virtual goal structure provides the model with functionality. However, it is important to reiterate that we are putting forward the idea of goals as an heuristic concept. Goals, essentially, are a way of talking about the temporal dimension of schematic models. Goals about the self, for example, are a function of schematic models of the self projected into the future (see Martin & Tesser, 1996). In this analysis, emotions are psychological processes that configure the system in order to resolve goal-related issues. The pattern of an individual's virtual goal hierarchy is a reflection of the pattern of schematic model information that is "in place" within the system. If we consider the goal of being a good father, what we are referring to is a configuration of schematic model information about "good fatherness" and individuals' self-concepts. So, the use of the concept of goals provides a language of functionality to describe the configuration of schematic model information in place. The highest goal in the system within this analysis is to preserve the current configuration of dominant schematic models of world, self, and other. These models provide individuals with their sense of self and their sense of reality. The massive impact of events that threaten these highest-level goals (namely, traumatic events) is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 on fear.

Although goals are therefore primarily a function of schematic models, they can also be represented propositionally. We all have a number of goals and aims which we can articulate clearly, such as the goal of trying to finish this book. Other goals are less accessible to such propositional articulation.

As we have discussed earlier, goals are hierarchically arranged. So, achieving the goal of being a good father requires the attainment of goals relating to various subsumed qualities. For example, achieving the goal of being around on Sunday afternoons to take the children to the park would, perhaps, facilitate the goal of being a good father. At other times goals are clearly inhibitory, so the goal of going to make a cup of coffee inhibits the short-term achievement of finishing this paragraph in the next 10 minutes. As with self-related goals, our representations of the goals of others can be mutually facilitative or inhibitory. In addition, the representations of goals of self and others may be either facilitatory or inhibitory. So, the woman who decides to leave her loving husband for another woman is pursuing her own goal in a way that inhibits the achievement of her husband's goal of a long and happy marriage, but most likely facilitates the achievement of her lover's goal to be together with her. We shall return to the question of goals at various points later in the chapter in order to discuss their importance in understanding emotions.

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