What do people think they're doing? An action can often be identified in many ways. For example, eating might also be described as chewing and swallowing, or as reducing hunger, gaining weight, getting nutrition, or simply doing what people do at mealtime. The theory of action identification (Vallacher & Wegner, 1985, 1987, 2012; Wegner & Vallacher, 1986) holds that identities of action vary in level, from the low level identities that tell how an action is done (such as chewing and swallowing) to the higher level identities that indicate the action's consequences (such as getting nutrition or gaining weight). According to the theory, people identify the actions they perform at the highest level they can. When they cannot perform an action as identified, however, they will re-identify the action at a lower level to remind themselves how the action is done. The theory is concerned, then, with the problem of how thinking about an action is related to the performance of the action.
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