Why the performance of habit requires attention

Mind and Language 39 (2):260-270 (2024)
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Abstract

This article argues that every performance of habit‐driven action requires attention. I begin by revisiting the conception of habit‐driven actions as reducible to automatically performed responses to stimuli. On this conception, habitual actions are a counterexample to Wayne Wu's action‐centered theory of attention. Using the biased competition model of attention, and building on findings from affective cognitive neuroscience, I challenge this position. I claim that the performance of a habitual action requires experiential history to be exerting an influence that is best understood as implicit selection‐biasing. It follows from this that habit‐driven action is compatible with Wu's theory.

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