8 June 2016: Malfunction and bounded rationality views of psychopathology

Peter Hitchcock
Department of Psychology
Drexel University

I will contrast two views of mental health problems: the malfunction and bounded rationality views. The malfunction view states that mental health problems are due to faulty machinery which produces irrational behavior. The bounded rationality view states that people with mental health difficulties act in a rational, which is to say goal-consistent, manner, but that their goals are sometimes maladaptive due to the boundedness of rationality (where boundedness is due to the limits of knowledge and computational capacity, and to the opportunity cost inherent in action selection). According to the malfunction view, biology is the science of prime relevance to mental health; according to the bounded rationality view, the science of intelligence is most relevant. Computational researchers have a long history of adopting a stance of bounded rationality when characterizing new problems and describing human behavior. What is less well-known is that cognitive-behavioral therapy researchers adopt a strikingly similar stance during case formulation and treatment development, as I will show through examples. The aim of this talk is to brainstorm with the CCNP community about whether this similar approach to solving problems offers opportunities for generating new predictions and for making progress on problems in common.