chapter  7
Ideomotor Mechanisms of Goal-Directed Behavior
BySanne de Wit and Anthony Dickinson
Pages 20

The concept of goal-directed behavior covers a gamut of actions, such as subscribing to a pension plan or embarking on a fi tness regime or diet, that require sophisticated cognitive capacities involved in future planning. However, this chapter is concerned with a much more limited form of goal-directed action, which we shall illustrate by an episode inspired by the 2000 fi lm Castaway . In this fi lm Tom Hanks plays the role of a FedEx systems analyst operating out of Memphis who hitches a ride on a cargo plane across the Pacifi c to resolve some problem in the Far East. Inevitably, the drama dictates that the plane fl ies into such a violent storm that it ditches in the sea, with Tom as the sole survivor, washed up on the beach of a deserted tropical island along with nothing more than a few useless packages. Fortunately, it usually rains every night, and, in a slight variation of the fi lm’s scenario, he builds a reservoir of leaves from the coconut palms that fringe the beach in order to catch this rainwater. So, having slaked his overnight thirst on waking with the rainwater, he forages for any coconuts that have fallen from the palms in order to satisfy his hunger. Using stones lying around on the beach, he learns to crack open the coconuts to get at their meat and to bore a hole to drink the milk, although, having satisfi ed his thirst, his preference is for breakfasting on the meat.