Beyond Automaticity: The Psychological Complexity of Skill

Topoi 40 (3):649-662 (2020)
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The objective of this paper is to characterize the rich interplay between automatic and cognitive control processes that we propose is the hallmark of skill, in contrast to habit, and what accounts for its flexibility. We argue that this interplay isn't entirely hierarchical and static, but rather heterarchical and dynamic. We further argue that it crucially depends on the acquisition of detailed and well-structured action representations and internal models, as well as the concomitant development of metacontrol processes that can be used to shape and balance it.

Author Profiles

Elisabeth Pacherie
Institut Jean Nicod
Myrto Mylopoulos
Carleton University


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