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Motor Representation in Goal Ascription (2016)

by Corrado Sinigaglia and Stephen A. Butterfill

--- in Yann Coello and Martin Fischer (eds.), Foundations of embodied cognition 2: Conceptual and Interactive Embodiment Psychology Press, pp. 150-164
--- links: [pdf]


Goal ascription, the process of identifying outcomes to which purposive actions are directed, is indispensable for predicting others’ behaviours and understanding their minds. But which mechanisms underpin goal ascription? This chapter examines several ways in which motor representations and processes are involved in different forms of goal ascription. We argue that motor representations and processes matter for goal ascription in two ways. They provide for capturing the directedness of an action to an outcome, and they shape the observers’ experiences of actions in such a way that these experiences reveal the goals of actions. The occurrence of motor representations in action observation thereby makes available, independently of any prior knowledge of others’ mental states, a route to knowledge of the goals of their actions.