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Old 18-07-2007, 06:17 AM   #1
Jon Newman
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Default What is a goal?

I linked to this paper last year though it was written in 2003. I haven't seen an update of this or any significant treatment of it though it seems relavant to PT among other fields of study. I still pick it up from time to time to contemplate some of the concepts.

I've been interested in the concept of goals and plans in general and this blog entry from the folks at the Overcoming Bias blog caught my interest and got me digging out the paper I linked to in the first paragraph. Here's what Gallese and Metzinger had to say about goals:

Quote:
What is a goal? From a strict scientific point of view, no such things as goals exist in the objective world [3]. All that exists are goal representations, for instance, those activated by biological nervous systems. A goal representation is, first, formed by the representation of a certain state of the organism, of the world, or by the holding of a certain relation between the organism and a part of the world, e.g. another organism. Goal representations are representations of goal-states. Second, what makes such a state a goal-state is the fact that its internal representation is structured along an axis of valence: it possesses a value for the system.

Biological systems are systems under evolutionary pressure, systems having to predict future events that possess a high survival value. Therefore, the prehistory of representational goal-states is likely to be found in the reward system. Why is this so? Reward is the payoff of the self-organizing principles that functionally govern and internally model the organization of an open system such as a living body is. Every organism has an internal, likely predetermined and genetically imprinted “drive” pushing toward homeostasis. A reward system is necessary to tell the
organism, for example, that it is doing right, that it is achieving a good level of integration, that it is heading on along the right track, the track leading through multiple stages (in a sense, this is life ...) to the achievement of higher and more complex levels of integration. Higher integration means greater flexibility, which in turn means fitness, better adaptation to changing environments, better chances to pass over genes, and the like. In healthy individuals, the architecture of their goal-state hierarchy expresses their individual “logic of survival” (Damasio, 1999).

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[3]By “objective” world we here mean reality as grasped under third-person, theoretical representations as typically found in successful theories within the natural sciences. The “subjective” world would correspondingly be the world as represented under conscious, first-person models of reality generated by individual organisms. As such, it has no observable properties under intersubjective and supra-individual types of representation.
Now this is a far cry more complicated than meeting the needs of an insurance form (Long term/short term goals) but I think more accurately reflects a biological reality. Goals representations can be quite fickle it seems and I wonder about how they influence the therapeutic relationship.

Any thoughts?
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Old 17-08-2007, 06:32 AM   #2
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I decided to post this abstract here but I thought of Diane's recent insights about eating when I read it.
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Old 17-08-2007, 01:45 PM   #3
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Jon, goal setting here is done by the patient (or close others if patient can't communicate) and the PT may temper it if it is totally unrealistic. I am not sure how that concerns the PT/pt relationship; or maybe I am just being dense tonight.?

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Old 17-08-2007, 02:08 PM   #4
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What an interesting abstract Jon.

After spending plenty of time in Asia, where breakfast is free from sugary cereals, fruit or toast, I remember questioning my need for particular foods at particular times of the day. I now happily eat whatever I really feel like at any meal. I astounded my friends by ordering goat curry for breakfast a little while ago.
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Old 17-08-2007, 04:11 PM   #5
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Hi Nari,
Having worked in occ rehab for 7 years therabouts, I am only too familiar with defining goals. Ideally, yes the goal is set by the patient. In private work, the PT or other therapist only needs to modify the goal, as you suggest, when it is unrealistic.

In my experience, occ rehab is there for employers, insurers and any other parties than the patient. If the patient benefits, that is considered a great, but not necessary result. That is why I got out of the system. What I wanted to do to achieve best results (eg extra pain education/support to patients) would only be approved if it represented financial value to the ones paying the money. In this situation, I and many other people in the system felt compromised. We were also perceived by the patient as working for the insurer/employer and by the insurer/employer as being too soft on the patient.

I agree with Jon that goal definition, where there is a third - or fourth - party involved, can definitely affect the therapeutic relationship,

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Old 17-08-2007, 05:05 PM   #6
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I agree with Jane. Once I realized how much I disliked working in insurance practices because of how they were set up, about mid-80's, I became determined to escape one day. I did, finally. It took several more years. Insured PT is thoroughly compromising on nearly every level of professional existance. (Insured medical care is an entirely different story - we have to get over seeing our profession so firmly wedded to or beholden to or so caught in the orbit of the medical one.)

Each PT who evolves and grows will realize how confining our social role as defined by insurance, IS, and how contradictory. Of course the patients come first. If we do our job right we learn what motivates them and help them get there. People are not herd animals and really, they don't respond all that well inside, to being treated as such. They are troop animals, and need to feel in alpha charge of their lives, however briefly, especially to get rid of persistent pain. They need a model sometimes, and if "their PT" is a mere flunkey in an insurance practice, not be able to understand let alone model this crucial bit consciously nor non-consciously, the patient won't get much from the encounter on any authentic transformative treatment crucible level. I see therapeutic contact metaphorically as induced fit hypothesis. No reaction will take place without it. Insurance constraints are countercatalyst to me.
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Old 17-08-2007, 06:18 PM   #7
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Hi Luke,

Quote:
I astounded my friends by ordering goat curry for breakfast a little while ago.
If your eating habits are still the same as in Vancouver perhaps the astounding part is that you didn't have the curry in addition to a typical breakfast.

To anyone:

The abstract I posted was interesting to me as it explicitly discussed that goals become activated/inactivated highlighting that they are not literally things that exist in objective world.

I thought the statement

Quote:
Previous findings suggest that, when the goal is active relative to when it is inactive, items relevant to satisfying a goal increase in value but items unrelated to that goal decrease in value.
What activates a goal (or inactivates it!) and what are the relevant items PTs or more importantly, patients, need to be aware of?
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Old 17-08-2007, 11:34 PM   #8
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Thanks Jane and Diane. Another look into the greasy world of insurance.

By the way, I grew up eating curry for breakfast quite often. And leftover roast beef; or whatever was around from the day before. It doesn't matter much if one is not bound to rules about what to eat when.

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Old 17-08-2007, 11:44 PM   #9
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Lately I've been eating fresh cooked salmon for breakfast. Mmmmmm. With lime juice.
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Old 18-08-2007, 06:05 AM   #10
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I've been contemplating the relationship between goals and beliefs. It seems to me that goals are more closely related to ideas than beliefs. I suppose that is why goals may change so easily.
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Old 18-08-2007, 10:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
"when the goal is active relative to when it is inactive, items relevant to satisfying a goal increase in value but items unrelated to that goal decrease in value."
What activates a goal (or inactivates it!) and what are the relevant items PTs or more importantly, patients, need to be aware of?
Jon,
I think a common example of this is patients being highly motivated to do 'homework' when pain levels are high but as soon as it reaches a bearable level they suddenly forget all about it.
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Old 31-08-2007, 05:17 AM   #12
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So I finally received the full text of the abstract I posted earlier. Here's are some excerpts.

Quote:
Motivation and Preference

We adopt a motivational framework that assumes that goals are representational structures connected to representations of the means that support goal satisfaction. On this view goals are activated by having motivational energy spread within a network of goals. Goals that are active pass activation along to supportive objects; that is, to means that help satisfy that goal. The increased activity of these goal-supportive objects manifests itself as increased preference for them.

Thus, when a goal is activated, we expect people to increase their preferences for such objects that are related to the active goal. We call this increase in preference for goal-related objects valuation.
Quote:
It is interesting that preference ratings for foods not contextually appropriate for the time of day were not influenced in a statistically reliable fashion by the need to eat. This finding may explain the puzzling observation that some previous studies have tended to find weak valuation effects. If goals are often specific, and items that are moderately related to the goal state show a pattern intermediate between valuation and devaluation, then many items that are intuitively thought to be related to an active goal state may yield patterns of preference rating that are not reliably influenced by the strength of a goal. Indeed, it is surprising how few studies in the literature show clear-cut evidence for valuation. It is possible that there have been considerably more studies seeking valuation effects that have yielded nonsignificant results and hence have not been published. Our results suggest the possibility that valuation effects may have been sparse in the literature because, as we did initially, researchers may have defined the set of need-relevant items too broadly. Valuation effects reflect experienced preferences and are hence at the heart of the influence of motivation on emotional experiences.
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Old 18-10-2007, 01:42 AM   #13
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From the always interesting Mind Blog by Deric Bownds,

Motivation alters physical perception
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Old 01-02-2008, 04:05 AM   #14
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Default What is motivation?

On another forum there was some talk about motivation and I'd like to take up the topic on this forum, in this thread. What is motivation?

The impetus of the question is this article.
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Old 19-04-2008, 01:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Predispositions to approach and avoid are contextually sensitive and goal dependent.

By Bamford, Susan; Ward, Robert

Emotion. 2008 Apr Vol 8(2) 174-183

Abstract

The authors show that predispositions to approach and avoid do not consist simply of specific motor patterns but are more abstract functions that produce a desired environmental effect. It has been claimed that evaluating a visual stimulus as positive or negative evokes a specific motor response, extending the arm to negative stimuli, and contracting to positive stimuli. The authors showed that a large congruency effect (participants were faster to approach pleasant and avoid unpleasant stimuli, than to approach unpleasant and avoid pleasant stimuli) could be produced on a novel touchscreen paradigm (Experiment 1), and that the congruency effect could be reversed by spatial (Experiment 2) and nonspatial (Experiment 3) response effects. Thus, involuntary approach and avoid response activations are not fixed, but sensitive to context, and are specifically based on the desired goal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:10 PM   #16
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I'm just adding an interesting read to this thread for reference.

Modulation of cognition by emotion and emotion by cognition
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Old 03-09-2008, 03:31 AM   #17
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For our reference, here is another useful entry by Deric Bownds-- Neural Correlates of Desire
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Old 19-10-2008, 03:11 AM   #18
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A relatively new paper from Aziz-Zadeh and Damasio.
Quote:
The theory of embodied semantics for actions specifies that the sensory-motor areas used for producing an action are also used for the conceptual representation of the same action. Here we review the functional imaging literature that has explored this theory and consider both supporting as well as challenging fMRI findings. In particular we address the representation of actions and concepts as well as literal and metaphorical phrases in the premotor cortex.
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Old 25-11-2008, 04:32 AM   #19
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This is the best I could find on the nerual correlates of belief. Some questions I'm considering: If one of those processes has more influence on movements, actions and behaviors is it desires (see post 17) or beliefs that wins the horse race? Which of these is more ammenable to change?

If anyone has compelling evidence I'd love to be pointed to a reference.

My current belief is that desire wins the horse race but beliefs are more malleable.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Neural correlates of belief.pdf (245.1 KB, 5 views)
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Old 25-11-2008, 08:51 AM   #20
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Interesting papers. After blogging about the lack of evidence for pacing, I started to consider the weight of evidence for other common tools for pain management. Goals and goal-setting came up because in most of the contracts I work under, setting goals is a requirement. YET I wonder whether there is much evidence of the efficacy of goal-setting as a clinical tool for clients with chronic pain? I know I use them as part of my clinical reasoning, and I know I introduce them to clients, but - where's the evidence? I haven't found much theoretical or empirical research on the science of setting goals, apart from Locke and Latham's work in industrial/organisational psychology. Anyone else have any literature on the subject?

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist Vol 57(9) Sep 2002, 705-717.
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:58 AM   #21
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Found this link to the paper by Locke and Latham that Bronnie referenced in the post preceeding this one.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:11 PM   #22
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Thanks for this link Cory. I'll check it out and report back with notes from the margins.
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Old 04-07-2010, 05:54 AM   #23
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Cory,

I did read that article and made some notes but then never got back to this thread. I'll see if I can find the paper laying around.

In the meantime, I just found this article which may help me.

From goals to actions and vice versa by Pezzulo, et.al.
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:41 AM   #24
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Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. And thanks for the link!
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:12 PM   #25
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I just read Action and Habit at the Less Wrong blog which led me to the paper (linked to in the comments section) Stress-induced modulation of instrumental behavior: From goal-directed to habitual control of action. It's an interesting paper and worth reading. What I stumble on is trying to translate the words and concepts (e.g. "instrumental") being used here to other words and concepts I've become familiar with. Also, there's this

Quote:
Contemporary instrumental learning theory describes the automaticity of behavior after extended practice as a consequence of a transition from goal-directed to habitual control of action [2].
Before reading this, I used the ideas expressed here.

I was thrown (into cog. dis.) by the way that sentence is written because it suggests that habitual (teleonomic) behavior is behavior without a goal, but that just doesn't seem to make sense (to me). That's because I was understanding "behavior" to necessarily be goal directed (even if the goal wasn't a conscious one.)

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Old 22-08-2011, 03:34 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Newman View Post
On another forum there was some talk about motivation and I'd like to take up the topic on this forum, in this thread. What is motivation?

The impetus of the question is this article.
Thank you, Luke Muehlhauser
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Old 22-08-2011, 04:53 AM   #27
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Default Goals are SMART

Goals are SMART

Specific (to the impairment)
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant (to the impairment)
Time specific

As in salmon (from a previous reply)...

I will eat salmon once a week this month! Mmmmm
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Old 13-10-2011, 05:19 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Newman View Post
On another forum there was some talk about motivation and I'd like to take up the topic on this forum, in this thread. What is motivation?

The impetus of the question is this article.
Lena Cosmides discusses The Architecture of Motivation at Edge.org.
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