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How Much Knowledge Is Necessary for Action?
How much knowledge is necessary for action? This question is fundamental because it suggests that the link between knowledge and action is debatable, that there is no given, fixed causal relationship between knowledge and action. In addition, there seems to be no fixed causal direction. Knowledge can be a prerequisite for action but also a consequence of an action. My opening question relates two key words in psychology. One of them is knowledge, about which a large body of knowledge exists (e.g., Halford, Wilson, & Phillips, 2010)—about its different types (e.g., procedural, declarative), styles of acquisition (implicit, explicit), and degrees of accessibility (conscious, subconscious, unconscious). The other word is action, about which there are various theories describing human behavior with respect to intention (e.g., Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010). In this introductory section I try to give an overview of these conceptions and of the relation between knowledge and action.
The issues around the keywords knowledge and action—which constitute the title of a book by Frey, Mandl, and von Rosenstiel (2006)—are captured by the following four main aspects, which generate corresponding questions.
J. Funke (*)
© The Author(s) 2017
P. Meusburger et al. (eds.), Knowledge and Action, Knowledge and Space 9, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-44588-5_6
The contribution from my own empirical work addresses mainly the first and at least in part the second of these four main aspects, leaving many of the other questions to the reader.
After a short section on definitions, I ask whether action is possible without knowledge and afterward venture the question of whether it is possible for people to act against their own knowledge. Thereafter, I review some of the standard views on the relation between knowledge and action, interpretations that may help this chapter’s exploration of that connection through three theories: planned behavior, unconscious thought, and the option-generation framework. The chapter then continues with empirical evidence from my own research area, problem-solving, and shows that the relation between knowledge and action is strong within that area.
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