It is proposed that motivation may affect reasoning through reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes–that is, strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs. The motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate, whereas the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion. There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at, but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusions.
I bet my readers think that the above sounds reasonable but that something doesn't feel right about it. Here is my take:
Let's parse #1: "reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes"
All cognitive processes are biased. We build experience and knowledge within a framework that encompasses our lives. Your parental raising, your education, your work experience all contribute to the process. This process is biased only in the sense that it is unique to you. Shared education and experience can create similar cognitive processes. the idea that we rely on our education and experience to make decisions is one of those 'yea, duh' points of view.
#2: "strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs"
Ah...it is not just dealing with day to day issues, but for formulating 'belief's. This is more than just observation of natural processes, but rather an attempt to explain how people form their belief systems. As if such a process is DIFFERENT from any other cognitive process. (To be honest, it is not the formulation that is different, but the continuous evaluation that varies. Most people are willing to re-evaluate decisions in the face of new information however, beliefs seldom are subject to such re-evaluation absent some 'trama' to the system.)
#3: "motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate"
In other words, a desire to be accurate relies on beliefs. Maybe in some. When I 'desire' to be accurate, I use education and experience and systems of decision making that in the past has resulted in accurate results. The choice of words in the above comment suggest a loose approximation of the result and the desire.
#4: "the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion"
Let me see if I have this right: I want a specific conclusion, so I am most likely to use 'cognitive processes utilizing experience and education' that are most likely to result the way I want to end up. Hmmm. I want to turn right in the car, so, using the turn indicator and steering wheel, I turn right and voila! ok.....
#5: "There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at"
Let me think....
1: a reasoned judgment : inference
2: the last part of something: as a result
3: an act or instance of concluding
It appears that the original statement actually changes which definition is in use.
We start off in #1 considering judgments. How people make choices. But by #5 we are now talking about how they seek outcomes. How I form beliefs is subject to more than just education and experience but also by my desires and the environment I choose to be in. But how I LIVE, how I determine actions and consequences is not based on beliefs or desires - I can desire to be in LA in 10 minutes, but physics limits me to driving for 3 hours. All the motivation and beliefs in the world can't change that the 'conclusion', being in LA requires 3 hours of driving.
I can form beliefs, come to a conclusion about faith that is unique to all the parts that make up me. However, reaching a physical conclueion is based on experience and specific actions that are NOT unique to me. Everyone in San Diego that wants to go to LA, regardless of the reason are subject to the same constraints.
#5: "There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at...but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusion"
I arrive at a conclusion by justifying the chosen conclusion? I have desires and needs. They are fulfilled by acting in ways reasonably expected to do so. I don't need to 'justify' them. Nor are they likely to be constrained because I can't figure a good reason to need or want them.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the author ISN'T changing the definition of conclusion. Nah.
"more likely to arrive....but constrained" Which is it? We get to where we want to be but are constrained in do so?
Overall, the statement is illogical. Shifting the definition being applied is dishonest. We make decisions based on desired outcomes - that is the ONLY way reasonable people act. Those outcomes are not 'belief' dependent. A Muslim, agnostic, Jew and atheist all must act in similar ways to drive from San Diego to LA. Their beliefs have little or no bearing on the 'conclusion'. We formulate beliefs based on experience, education AND desired outcomes and 'reason' has little to do with those conclusions.
Conclusion in a reasoned judgment can apply the full range of human options and does. However, a conclusion to an event is a function of choices and their associated consequences. BOTH end points can be desired but only one is ordained.