Image Theory: Principles, Goals, and Plans in Decision Making. Acta Psychologica 1987


  1. Idea that decision making is represented as images, each with different purposes:
    1. goals
    2. what would be the result of obtaining those goals
    3. plans to achieve goals
    4. anticipated results of plans <I suppose they mean near-term, because the end points are just #1>
  2. “Decisions consist of (1) adopting or rejecting potential candidates to be new principles, goals, or plans, and (2) determining whether progress toward goals is being made, i.e., whether the aspired-to future and the anticipated results of the plan implementation correspond.”
  3. Decisions are made either based on:
    1. Compatibility between candidates and existing goals, as well as compatibility with desired future states
    2. Potential reward of goal/plan
  4. <Some things here feel conflated, assume it will be cleared up>
  5. Is based on schemas.  “Images (…) are schemata that are specific to decision behavior and represent the decision maker’s guiding principles relevant to some sphere of decision making.  They also represent the decision maker’s goals in that sphere, what he or she is doing to reach those goals, and his or her view of how well those efforts are succeeding.”
  6. Self-image is how we see ourselves.  Self-image is made of principles, which drive selection of goals
  7. Trajectory image is where we see our plan taking us (both end points, and along the way).  Made up of goals (can be concrete, specific, vague, abstract).
  8. Action image is composed of plans
  9. Goal adoption is accepting the endpoint of a plan
  10. Plans are abstract, made concrete through tactics
    1. Not all tactics must be completely ironed out – items can be left to be dealt with as the plan unfolds
    2. Tactics may have a dependency order, or may be independent (so can be undertaken in any order or concurrently)
  11. The projected image consists of the anticipated events and states that one foresees occurring (1) if one adopts a particular candidate plan in order to attain a specific goal or (2) if one continues with the plans that already have been adopted and that currently are being implemented.”  Deals with expected outcomes
  12. Decisions are of two forms:
    1. Adoption: accept/reject parts of images
    2. Progress: are things going as they should according to plan, if things aren’t going well, a plan may need to be rejected and another on adopted.  If a new plan can’t be found, the goal may have to be rejected
  13. Decisions are made based on compatibility (does it fit well enough – above some threshold – doesn’t have to be perfect) and profitability (what is the reward)
    1. Violations of compatibility may not always be fully conscious, could lead to some emotional sense that something isn’t right
    2. By default we accept things as compatible and only discard with enough evidence.  Favors status quo
  14. Doubt in terms of likelihood of decision success discounts its reward (go by expected reward)
  15. Decisions made based on rejecting those that are incompatible and then selecting from those left the most profitable
  16. Adoption and the evolution of images – how images change over time (developmentally) <skipping>
  17. Future directions
  18. <Not a fruitful read>
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