Adaptive Changes in Processing and Perception
Lewin (1941, 1951) and Tolman (1932, 1959) often noted that a person would see the world differently based on their state. Tolman focused on variables such as attention bias and learning. At the heart of Lewin’s (1951) theorizing was that people in what GDT refers to as disruption, will change “…from an abstract to a more concrete type thinking, from reasoning to learning, from flexible to stereotyped behavior…” (p. 95, 1951). Tolman’s (1932) discussion of processing and perception while in a heightened drive state posits the disrupted individual will have an attention bias toward relevant stimuli and a hyper-bias toward anything perceived as relevant or threatening. A person in disruption will also exhibit hyper-vigilance and oversensitivity to surroundings (Weiss, 2004). Moreover, someone in disruption will learn relevant information quicker than someone not in a state of disruption (Tolman, 1932). The disrupted person will have higher levels of biased processing than when they were not disrupted (Tolman, 1932). Information perceived to be relevant to the disruption is processed with vigilance; information perceived irrelevant is relatively ignored (Zotter & Crowther, 1991). The importance of the goal is also exaggerated (Pinquart, Nixdorg-Hanchen, & Silbereisen, 2005), the fear of failure is exaggerated, the outcomes associated with failure are exaggerated, and the likelihood of success is perceived as less. Further, as part of the processes associated with adaptation, the person will exhibit tunnel vision (i.e., a reduction in “…the area of activities and interest”; Lewin. p. 114, 1951). Parts of the person’s memories, expectations, and beliefs will not be accessible, and commitment to one specific chosen course of action (Wolf & Moser, 2008) will increase. Goal disruption theory, in line with research about negative life events (Tait & Silver, 1989), also proposes that even if the disrupted person does not want to think about the topic, they will not be able to think about anything else. Scholars have described this specific phenomenon as intrusive thoughts, frequent reappraisals, and rumination (Kelly et al., 1995; Lazarus, 1991; Nissim et al., 2012; van Randenborgh, Hüffmeier, LeMoult, & Joormann, 2010). Rumination, which is known to instigate and maintain mental disorders (deJong-Meyer, Beck, & Riede, 2009), will persist until a return to psychological equilibrium is achieved (Martin & Tesser, 1989). As with the other adaptive changes, processing and perception will influence, and be influenced by, an individual's changes in ability, disposition, allocation of mental resources, and tactic.