Mentalistic and Scientific Stories about Human Behavior, Biomimetic Heuristics and Psychology’s Confusions

Theoretical Review

John Richer

Human Ethology Bulletin, Volume 31, No 4, 15-33, published December 30, 2016

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This paper is about a number of connected issues:

  • Mentalism and why and how we are a mentalistic species.
  • Why there are two, equally important, stories about human behaviour, the mentalistic and scientific, whose differences need to be clearly understood.
  • Why the mentalistic story of human behaviour is flawed starting place for a scientific study of ourselves, though absolutely necessary for everyday life. That necessity and utility has seduced many psychologists erroneously to start their would-be science with mentalistic concepts.
  • And yet, in the manner of those practicing biomimetics, how scientists can learn from evolved mentalism, and in particular the pervasiveness of the mentalistic understanding people at the level of motivations (feelings, intentions, etc.), and work on the heuristic expectation that patterns in behaviour will be found, not at the behavioural level, but at the level of motivation albeit inferred from the observed behaviour.

Keywords: Ethology, motivational analysis, biomimetics, mentalism, direct observation, psychology’s shortcomings.

ISSN: 2224-4476