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Motivation in Mental Accessibility: Relevance of a Representation (ROAR) as a New Framework



The notion of accessibility of mental representations has been invaluable in explaining and predicting human thought and action. Focusing on social cognition, we review the large corpus of data that has accumulated since the first models of mental activation dynamics were outlined. We then outline a framework that we call Relevance of a Representation (or ROAR for short), the main tenant of which is that not all stimulated representations are in fact activated (i.e., influence thought and action processes). More specifically, we propose that the degree to which a representation is available to processes of thought and action is a function of that representation’s motivational relevance. We end by demonstrating how the framework enables re-addressing the notions of accessibility, automaticity, and selective attention.