A functional basis for structure-seeking: exposure to structure promotes willingness to engage in motivated action.
A recurring observation of experimental psychologists is that people prefer, seek out, and even selectively "see" structure in their social and natural environments. Structure-seeking has been observed across a wide range of phenomena--from the detection of patterns in random arrays to affinities for order-providing political, religious, social, and scientific worldviews--and is exacerbated under psychological threat. Why are people motivated for structure? An intriguing, but untested, explanation holds that perceiving structure, even in domains unrelated to one's current behavioral context, can facilitate willingness to take goal-directed actions. Supporting this, in 5 studies, reminders of structure in nature or society increase willingness to engage in goal pursuit.
Kay, AC; Laurin, K; Fitzsimons, GM; Landau, MJ
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