• Julie Aaris Hydén
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This paper examines the role which imagination and the imagining of the future plays in decision making. This is examined using a theoretical approach, drawing on theory from both cognitive as well as narrative psychology.
The paper is divided into three parts: Part A looking at imagination, part B looking at decision making and part C looking at the relationship between the two.
Part A of the paper seeks to understand imagination as a phenomenon, using theories from cognitive psychology and theories from narrative psychology. Imagination is found to be a complex phenomenon with many relevant dimensions. The cognitive approach highlights the brain’s ability to simulate hypothetical scenarios through mental time travel, which involves a multitude of different cognitive processes such as the working memory, episodic memory as well as semantic memory. Simulation of the future can be considered the result of a brain network known as the Default Mode Network, which utilizes both schemata and associations to create simulations. The narrative approach on the other hand focuses on our ability to think beyond the here and now using narratives and possibility thinking by means of stories and lan-guage. Personal narratives can be considered a guiding force, connecting imagina-tion to agency by making only certain actions come to mind and meaningful. When combined, the two perspectives seem to provide a fuller, complimentary view of imagination.
Part B of the paper seeks to understand decision making by looking at Kahneman’s approach to decision making with a focus on dual processing, prospect theory, avail-ability, framing effects, and bias of imaginability. Kahneman’s approach is promi-nent in psychology, but also has some short comings that are discussed, such as a non-naturalistic approach to decision making and a discrediting of the intuition.
Finally, part C is a synthesis of the different approaches and views of how imagina-tion may play a role in decision making. Firstly, this is examined by looking at how decision making theory currently lack and might benefit from the insertion of imag-ination by presenting Nanay’s (2016) view of imagination as the way in which we make decisions. Then, imagination as seen in Kahneman’s theory is examined, where imagination is largely presented as a bias or part of the intuitive system 1, despite many similarities to cognitive processes belonging to system 2. Finally, a broader synthesis and discussion of whether and how imagination might be said to play a role in decision making is laid out. Here, the paper examines whether imagi-nation can be said to have an influence on decisions, the different types of decisions, the building blocks of our imagination, preceding factors as well as the overall role which imagination can be said to play. The paper finds that the two areas appear compatible. Imagination both has a role in decision making by being a motivating force for adaptive future oriented decisions, as well as a way to explore possibilities for the future as guided by our autobiographical narratives or cultural elements. Im-agination can be seen as playing a necessary role in much decision making, and can sometimes be quite helpful, but other times makes decision making harder, as ex-ploring too many options can be a straining endeavor, perhaps leading to cognitive overload, especially if one falls under the category of maximizer. Furthermore, im-agination cannot properly attend to real probabilities, and we must therefore simul-taneously be critical of our imagined futures. The paper concludes that imagination does play a role in decision making and might be a meaningful addition to decision making theory more broadly.
Publication date31 May 2023
Number of pages70
ID: 532442868