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Action Assembly Theory

John O. Greene


Action assembly theory (AAT) seeks to explain message behavior (both verbal and nonverbal) by describing the system of mental structures and processes that give rise to those behaviors (→ Message Production ). As such, AAT is a member of the broader class of cognitive theories of message production. AAT, in turn, is itself an umbrella category for any of a variety of actual and potential specific theories that share certain central features, most prominently the notion that actions are created by integrating (or assembling) elemental features represented in → memory in code systems reflecting multiple levels of abstraction. Two distinct exemplars of this class are found in Greene (1984, 1997) . The initial impetus for the development of AAT was a set of fundamental observations concerning the nature of behavior and behavioral production – among them the observation that behavior is simultaneously patterned and creative. The approach of AAT is to ascribe the patterned character of verbal and nonverbal messages to action features represented in long-term memory. The creative character of behavior, then, comes from the integration of such features to form unique collocations – thoughts and actions that the individual may never have thought, heard, seen, or said before. In the language of AAT, “action features,” the fundamental building blocks of thought and overt action, are ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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