Imagining is Believing
It is easy to document, both anecdotally and experimentally, that we often believe to be true what we wish to be true. To fully understand this phenomenon, which one may label motivationally-biased belief fixation, it is crucial to determine how beliefs are acquired by a subject in the first place. Are we able to carefully consider every piece of information before we start believing it? Or are we rather prone to automatically believe everything we hear or think about? Philosophical arguments and empirical evidence point in both directions. But the two alternatives need not be mutually exclusive. In this project, I seek to develop a pluralistic theory of motivationally-biased belief fixation, by inquiring the conditions under which beliefs are acquired automatically and exploring the roles played by attention and imagination in the cognitive machinery underlying this phenomenon.