Behavioural, cognitive and neuroscientists also call into question whether the reasons we think we have for our actions correspond with what actually influences and causes our behaviour. Experiments are claimed to show that whenever we provide a rational explanation of our actions we engage in ‘confabulation’ or ‘intention invention’. Our actions really stem from countless causes of which we are completely unaware. Some scientists have argued that our brains are equipped with a so-called ‘interpreter’, a specific left-hemisphere mechanism which automatically constructs hypotheses about why we do what we do. Evidence for such a mechanism is derived from confabulation studies on split-brain patients who have undergone surgical separation of their two hemispheres. The results of these studies are taken to show that confabulation is a much more general phenomenon. In everyday life, too, we are thought to superimpose justifications and explanations onto our actions all the time, while the real sources of motivation are hidden from us.
This project will be executed by PhD-student Naomi Kloosterboer.