Intention

Intention is a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.

Folk psychology explains human behavior on the basis of mental states, including beliefs, desires, and intentions. Mental mechanisms, including intention, explain behavior in that individuals are seen as actors who have desires and who attempt to achieve goals that are directed by beliefs. Thus, an intentional action is a function to accomplish a desired goal and is based on the belief that the course of action will satisfy a desire.

There is also a theoretical distinction between intentionality (intentional actions), and a mental state of intention for the future. Searle (1983) labeled these as intention-in-action and prior intention respectively. Prior intentions reflect forethought about intentions-in-action; prior intentions do not need to be carried out to be considered intentions. An unfulfilled intention is a prior intention that has no action associated with it.

Astington (1993) outlined the connections between mental states (desires, beliefs, and intentions) and actions carried out by an individual in order to reach a goal; these connections are referred to as the Intentional Chain. The proposed connective chain is that desire causes intention, which causes action, which causes outcome. The Intentional Chain maps the linking of a desire to the satisfaction of a goal via the intermediary intention.

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