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The power of goal-directed processes in the causation of emotional and unhealthy behavior - Belgium
KU Leuven (company)
Posted on : 01 May 2017
- People often engage in behavior that is not in their best interest.
- For instance, they become aggressive even when they risk a high cost (e.g., retaliation or ruining a relationship) and they engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking.
- Traditional theories have attributed these so-called suboptimal behaviors to a stimulus-driven process in which a stimulus activates a response based on the person’s prior learning history or innate wiring.
- This response can be regulated by a goal-directed process, which compares the values and likelihoods of the outcomes of different action options, but only when the person has ample opportunity to engage in this process.
- We propose an alternative theory in which goal-directed processes do not merely play a regulatory role, but are also at the heart of the emotional and unhealthy behaviors themselves.
- This deviates from the tenacious view that emotions and unhealthy behaviors are irrational.
- The project challenges the traditional theory by testing whether seemingly stimulus-driven behavior might be due to goal-directed processes after all.
- We do so by using state-of-the-art behavioral (reaction time) and neuroscientific (TMS/MEP) methods.
- Support for the alternative theory has important implications for behavior change in clinical practice and society.
Candidates should have a Master degree in psychology, experience with conducting experimental research, experience with or a willingness to learn neuroscientific methods (TMS/MEP), a deep interest in theory, and good English reporting skills.
- The PhD position extends over a period of 4 years.
- We offer a competitive salary with various additional benefits (in terms of holidays, health insurance, transport costs), excellent research facilities, and conference and travel budget.