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Animal ThinkingContemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition$
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Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.001.0001

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Goal-Directed Behavior and Future Planning in Animals

Goal-Directed Behavior and Future Planning in Animals

(p.79) 6 Goal-Directed Behavior and Future Planning in Animals
Animal Thinking

Anthony Dickinson

The MIT Press

This chapter draws a distinction between two forms of prospective behavior, goal-directed behavior and future planning, in terms of the motivational relevance of the goal or outcome of the behavior. Goal-directed behavior is relevant to the animal’s current motivational state, whereas future planning refers to action taken in the service of future needs. Two criteria are employed to distinguish goal-directed actions from habitual behavior. Performance must be sensitive, first, to the current incentive value of the goal as assessed by the outcome revaluation procedure (goal criterion) and, second, to the instrumental contingency between the action and the outcome (instrumental criterion). Both associative and cognitive accounts of goal-directed behavior are considered. Discussion of future planning focuses primarily two accounts of the sensitivity of behavior to future consequences: the mnemonic-associative theory and the mental time travel account. Although the avian food-caching paradigm has yielded evidence for mnemonic-associative theory, support for mental time travel in animals comes largely by default. The empirical evaluation of mental time travel awaits a more detailed and articulated specification of the underlying cognitive processes.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, goal-directed behavior, habitual behavior, future planning, mental time travel, mnemonic-associative theory

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