The Theory of Motif: The Power of Determining the Implicit

Author: Sahadeo Chaudhary, GPHR
Date: Aug 31, 2020

Humans are pattern-seeking animals and we are adept at finding patterns whether they exist or not” - Michael Shermer.

 Research asserts that humans are highly proficient at finding patterns and building knowledge and perceptions upon them. We can typically divide it into three categories: practical knowledge, knowledge by acquaintance, and factual knowledge. However, an exception could be the acquisition of knowledge by your own actions, mainly through basic instincts and intuition.

 Pattern-seeking is a form of knowledge acquisition which is inferred from the pattern-recognition abilities of animals and humans. Pattern recognition describes a cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus with information retrieved from long-term or short-term memory.
 Several different models of pattern recognition are cultivated. First is the template matching, where incoming information is compared to ‘templates’ of information stored in long-term memory. This is what allows us to conclude that “X is just like Y.” In this case, we can then proceed to treat X as Y. Prototype matching is like template matching except the match does not have to be perfect. For instance, if a person sees a foal, he or she will know this is a horse (template matching) but he or she would also know it is a mammal (prototype matching). Feature analysis means that the mind breaks down all incoming stimuli into individual features before processing the information. The model states that our pattern recognition process goes through four stages: detection, pattern dissection, feature comparison in memory, recognition.
 Facial pattern recognition would be an example of such a pattern which correlates to experience with people of similar patterns and that what is a Theory of Motif - a theory conceptualised and coined by me basis a decade and a half of experience and studies on the subject.
In the case of natural sciences, however, the hypothesis and theory can be evaluated through experiments on the collated data, outcome of which enables one to either reject or accept it. As a researcher claimed once, “our brains are belief engines”, meaning that those could be perceived as pattern-recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of the patterns that humans tend to see in nature.
 The human race can successfully find patterns, also known as associative learning and it is fundamental to all humans. Our memory recalls past experiences. It provides the fundamental storage, which facilitates all our experiences through ways of knowing and therefore allows us to apply and build upon that knowledge and cues.  
How many times have you had a close encounter with people whom you could relate to of being acquaintance in the past? Sometimes we become nostalgic by looking at a person who resembles someone we know, viz. “he looks like X and we recollect how it was being with X” but do we go a step further to analyze if this gentleman Y, whom we just met could carry similar traits like X?   
 A hypothesis worth testing! That is the Theory of Motif and which, as I put it across is the power to determine things based on previous experiences and the facial pattern people carry. We wonder as we come across look-alike or similar facial patterns of the face, the geometry of the face which resembles, like basic facial structure, talking style and maybe the aura too. Often, we acknowledge these facts, but seldom do we go beyond it to analyze it. As I illustrate this with an instance, I would try to enlighten an aspect which is latent by far till now and which may assist one in determining certain facets in how we perceive and interact with people.
 In June 2010 summer, when I was associated with one of the growing organizations in the capacity of HR Manager, we were looking to hire a training manager for our team. As we scanned through various profiles and facilitated a round of interviews, the training head zeroed in on an incumbent and sought my assessment on the incumbent’s suitability. I shall address this incumbent with a pseudo name, Mr. Sam. Mr. Sam appeared polished and kind of exhibited a high degree of professionalism. I was slated to assess the incumbent in a face to face interview. The moment I met him, a similar face began unwinding in my mind and as we started off with the conversation, I could sense a unique similarity in the aura and reflexes between the incumbent and one of my old colleague who was associated with me for over three years, however, it can’t be said he was an exact match of my previous acquaintance.
 As we drew close to the end of the discussions and I was able to sense the professional side of Mr. Sam., the avatar which ideally people portray at work was evident and apparently experienced by me. As a team, we had started interacting with the incumbent more for salary negotiations and offer letter processes. During the process, our interactions started unfolding with some real actions wherein I was able to sense the next move or probable reaction of the incumbent and was able to predict certain facets of the incumbent which were un-assumed, like his demand for specific compensation, stubbornness on location and specifics of job role, etc., which are fairly tacit traits of that incumbent.
 Eventually, we as a team started wondering more about his expectations, and we as a team started to deliberate on what next! Gradually, I was able to foresee the reactions coming at some point during the whole process and there was a stage wherein I could predict and determine with 90% probability that what shall be the reflex or reaction to a situation while dealing with this incumbent. To this, my fellow colleagues quizzed me as to how I was able to determine his probable actions with such reliability. The answer was the Theory of Motif. The theory proclaims that individuals have a similarity in the pattern of traits, behaviors, and self-concepts and which highly correlates with their facial patterns. The theory further suggests that certain implicit behavioral patterns are quite identical (i.e. honesty, trust, and confidence) and which resemble these people largely.
 An experience which a person has had with an individual X whereby he possesses a specific facial pattern, there is a high probability that he would face similar experience with a person Y who resembles the same facial pattern.
This theory would assist people to deal with strangers and new acquittances wherein the situation warrants that the interaction would involve traits, self-concepts, motives, and virtues like trust, honesty, confidence, and reliance. As in most of the cases, we built upon these virtues basis various cues that we feel about the person. For example, we just do not start trusting people right away, it starts to formulate over a period and as time passes, we start to build upon it based on experiences. However, it is safe to proclaim that a strong correlation prevails while dealing with people possessing similar facial patterns. Herein the logic is your virtues and idea of life correlate to your personality and many times face reflects those inherent traits and perspectives.
 The analogue is that similar patterns carry signature traits, and this brings the resemblance. This theory has repeatedly been validated by my hypothesis of similar facial patterns that correspond to similar behavior, be at work or relationships. The advantage of acknowledging this theory is not to create biases, but perceptions which would help make a prudent decision when it comes to decision-making and navigating a decisive scenario based on cues and fairly low understanding of the subject in question. It is about arriving at a perspective based on correlations of the past and which would serve as a locus and pivot for the whole scenario.
 In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition describes cognitive processes that match information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory. I believe this theory helps one in being cautious, preemptive, and calculative while dealing with human behaviors or traits. it acts like a predictive index that throws a cue about probable reactions however, it does not guarantee it. When we say facial pattern, it does not imply an exact match, it is more about similarity, wherein we are corresponding to a similar pattern. This understanding prepares you to foresee and determine to an extent to which virtues like reliability, trust, and confidence can exert and influence an individual. The probability is equally influenced by certain other variables, the context, processes, and protocols which also act as variables in how people act, behave, and respond.
 In conclusion, based on all the findings and analysis above, it can be argued with complete assurance that even though pattern-recognition initiates knowledge acquisition and thus leads to knowledge production, it is not always perfect and therefore should be relied upon with caution. Involving a number of areas of knowledge, most importantly human sciences and natural sciences, and also multiple ways of knowledge, pattern recognition to a great extent forms a basis for our knowledge, underlying our thought process and enabling us to observe and question the world around by reasoning. With the utilization of memory and sense perception, the knowledge gained, if interpreted correctly, shall develop further, and built upon previous understandings and shall lead to the progression of human development.
About Author - Sahadeo Chaudhary is a Global Professional in Human Resources, Traveller, Blog writer and a Thought Leader. He is an HRCI certified professional with 15 years in the HR domain, a subject matter expert on Global Mobility, HR Processes and Culture Building. He is currently based in Mumbai and has resided in Canada and USA]
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