Psychological theory has traditionally attempted to explain events
in terms of motivation, emotion, or cognition. Over the past
decade, psychology has come to be viewed as a paradigmatic science;
the new paradigm being the understanding of behavior in terms of
This cognitive revolution has fostered a view of the passing of
information back and forth between perceptual, memory, and motor
components of an integrated system, known as the "computational
metaphor." With cognition as the new paradigm, can we expect that
the explanatory scope of psychology will be clarified? Will a
cognitive perspective be extended to phenomena that have
traditionally fallen under the rubric of motivation and emotion?
The psychologists involved in this volume of the Nebraska Symposium
address these questions specifically. Their contributions stimulate
a hypothesis that the cognitive paradigm has begun to move
psychology toward a "unified field theory" of behavior and
Herbert A. Simon tests the limits of a pure information processing
paradigm. A basic tenet of this theoretical approach is that
information exists independent of the medium by which it is
represented. By analyzing the information processing capabilities
of nonbiological systems, or "artificial intelligence," we may
determine which aspects of motivation and emotion require the
biological substrate of cognition.
Muriel D. Lezak raises a similar question by focusing on the
biological substrate itself and by analyzing the constraints and
determinations that it imposes. Howard Gardner considers the medium
and the information it processes; thus he lays a conceptual
foundation for making thefacts of biological brain science
congruent with the richness of human behavior and experience.
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