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Of Cognitive Frames

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

There are no normal days for human kind. When we wake we evaluate our daily chores and prepare to make response. A day of travel means far different steps than a lazy Sunday held at home. If we’re busy we move faster. If still tired or still hungry we shift focus to pursuits to quench the need. We are immediate responders and recognize each given situation as an independent situation demanding an individual response.

I will call this perspective a “cognitive frame,” the mental perspective we utilize to view a task and plan a response. The cognitive frame is our lens into the situation. Each of us will view a situation with a different cognitive frame- for example the engineer will view planning for a bridge in a very different light than the line cook working midnights at Taco Bell. We use emotions and experience to prepare our response and create our cognitive frames from these interior factors.

As further complication, the variables of situation will also alter our cognitive frames. A given situation will have a different response if undertaken on separate days. Commutes to work on Monday are viewed with a very different cognitive frame than Friday’s journey homeward.

Assuming this is true, it is important that we construct our situations in recognition of these cognitive frames. Far more than simply adopting a positive attitude, our society must create situations in which positive cognitive frames are more likely to be deployed. This means varied education and opportunities to develop skills and knowledge so we have reference to utilize in future situations. I am reminded by the CCC of FDR’s era and the subtle power of “having work.” If employed we feel a sense of contribution and this positive energy trickles down to create a happier person whose happier home and family are directly connected to the chores that created the positive energy. We must recognize the need for work, the human passions and emotions that run beneath the facades of personality.

We need a job to do. Create chores and tasks that create cognitive frames from which future thinking can develop and personal development can occur. The greatest crime against an individual is failing to provide the opportunity for growth. Our cognitive frames are our tools to view the world- now is the time we dust the old frames off and take a look at how we need our chores no matter how tedious and seemingly useless.

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