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Goal weighting and the choice of behaviour in a complex world.
Ergonomics, 33, 1265-1279.
Year of publication:
Human behaviour is intrinsically goal directed. In the laboratory, experimenters usually impose tight constraints on which goal(s) will be chosen to control behaviour, but in any more complex environment goals are chosen from many competing, often unrelated alternatives. For driving, in particular, data on the skills of experts, normals and novices are used to argue that many inadequacies of normal performance are reflections of this problem. An account of goal choice in a complex world is sketched. Perceptual data are combined with internal preferences to guide a competition between alternative momentary goals. A central role is given to goal clamping: selection of useful sub-goals by joint activation from current and goal states. This idea is linked to work on frontal lobe dysfunction, "intelligence", dual tasks, and routine behaviour. Returning to driving, the theoretical account is related to findings on individual differences in component skills, accident involvement, and distraction by a secondary task.