The Role of Predictions, Their Confirmation, and Reward in Maintaining the Self-Concept

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 16:824085 (2022)
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The predictive processing framework posits that people continuously use predictive principles when interacting with, learning from, and interpreting their surroundings. Here, we suggest that the same framework may help explain how people process self-relevant knowledge and maintain a stable and positive self-concept. Specifically, we recast two prominent self-relevant motivations, self-verification and self-enhancement, in predictive processing (PP) terms. We suggest that these self-relevant motivations interact with the self-concept (i.e., priors) to create strong predictions. These predictions, in turn, influence how people interpret information about themselves. In particular, we argue that these strong self-relevant predictions dictate how prediction error, the deviation from the original prediction, is processed. In contrast to many implementations of the PP framework, we suggest that predictions and priors emanating from stable constructs (such as the self-concept) cultivate belief-maintaining, rather than belief-updating, dynamics. Based on recent findings, we also postulate that evidence supporting a predicted model of the self (or interpreted as such) triggers subjective reward responses, potentially reinforcing existing beliefs. Characterizing the role of rewards in self-belief maintenance and reframing self-relevant motivations and rewards in predictive processing terms offers novel insights into how the self is maintained in neurotypical adults, as well as in pathological populations, potentially pointing to therapeutic implications.



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The Predictive Mind.Jakob Hohwy - 2013 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
New directions in predictive processing.Jakob Hohwy - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):209-223.
Animal intelligence.Edward L. Thorndike - 1899 - Psych Revmonog 8 (2):207-208.

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