Operationalizing Attitudes: Comparing Models' Internal States in Perception


  • Sabina Pajmon University of Ljubljana


We all have varying expectations and states of mind that shape our subjective experience of the world. Theoretical accounts, such as predictive processing, highlight the top-down influence of internal states on perception [1]. However, there is currently a lack of empirical operationalization (i.e., practical implementation and measurement) and verification of these hypotheses in the field of cognitive science. This may be due to a disconnection between researchers using different terms and understanding to refer to similar phenomena. For instance, Herz et al. introduced a 5-dimensional model called "overarching states of mind" [2], providing a comprehensive framework for understanding cognitive states contributing to subjective experience. Additionally, Peter Lush developed a context-specific scale to measure expectations, which are believed to play a role in shaping perception [3]. These examples illustrate different operationalizations of inner states and their influences on perception and experience. Our aim is to bridge the gap in empirical operationalization by establishing a standardized classification structure for internal states and their influences on perception that transcends domain-specific boundaries.


We will conduct a comparative meta-analysis to examine attitudes' operationalization in the research field of perception and experience in cognitive science. In this study, attitudes refer to the properties of internal states and their impact on perception. We will consider models that presuppose the significance of attitudes in shaping perception and propose specific methodologies for operationalization. While acknowledging potential limitations arising from terminological and explanatory differences, our primary focus will be examining the influences of attitudes on perception and experience, excluding reasoning, social compliance, ideologies, opinions, biases, etc.

Expected Results and Implications

Our analysis will identify key elements of theories, methods, and models and provide a comparative analysis of attitudes' operationalizations. These insights can facilitate understanding and communication among researchers, contributing to a comprehensive mind and brain research approach. The framework can also shed light on the intricate relationship between cognitive processes and perception, aligning with the latest paradigms in cognitive science.


[1] A. Clark, “Whatever next? Predictive Brains, situated agents, and the future of Cognitive Science,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 181–204, 2013. doi:10.1017/s0140525x12000477

[2] N. Herz, S. Baror, and M. Bar, “Overarching states of mind,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 184–199, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.12.015

[3] P. Lush, “Demand characteristics confound the rubber hand illusion,” Collabra: Psychology, vol. 6, no. 1, 2020. doi:10.1525/collabra.325