Lee Roy Beach

American psychologist

Lee Roy Beach (born 1936) is an American psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Management at the Eller College of Business, University of Arizona, known for his work in on the theory of the mind, the theory of narrative thought, and image theory.


  • Images are defined to be information structures, with different kind of images representing different kind of information about what the actor is doing, why and how, and what kind of progress is being made.
    • Terence R. Mitchell and Lee Roy Beach in: Universidade da Coruña (1990), Organizational behavior and human decision processes. p. 7
  • To begin, image theory assumes that decision makers use three different schematic knowledge structures to organize their thinking about decisions. These structures are called images, in deference to Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960), whose work inspired image theory. The first of the three is the value image, the constituents of which are the decision maker's principles. These are the imperatives for his or her behavior or the behavior of the organization of which he or she is a member and serve as rigid criteria for the rightness or wrongness of any particular decision about a goal or plan. Principles serve to internally generate candidate goals and plans for possible adoption, and they guide decisions about externally generated candidate goals and plans.
The second image is the trajectory image, the constituents of which are previously adopted goals. This image represents what the decision maker hopes he, she or the organization will become and achieve. Goals can be concrete, specific events (getting the money to buy a new Honda Accord DX) or abstract states (achieving a successful career). The goal agendum is called the trajectory image to convey the idea of extension, the decision maker's vision of the ideal future.
The third image is the strategic image, the constituents of which are the various plans that have been adopted for achieving the goals on the trajectory image. Each plan is an abstract sequence of potential activities beginning with goal adoption and ending with goal attainment...
  • Lee Roy Beach. "Image theory: An alternative to normative decision theory." NA-Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20 (1993).

The Psychology of Decision Making: People in Organizations, 2005


Lee Roy Beach and Terry Connolly, The Psychology of Decision Making: People in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.

  • Paradigms are the most general-rather like a philosophical or ideological framework. Theories are more specific, based on the paradigm and designed to describe what happens in one of the many realms of events encompassed by the paradigm. Models are even more specific providing the mechanisms by which events occur in a particular part of the theory’s realm. Of all three, models are most affected by empirical data - models come and go, theories only give way when evidence is overwhelmingly against them and paradigms stay put until a radically better idea comes along.
    • p. 11
  • [The behaviour of the decision maker reflects economics’ utilitarian paradigm] which means that they strive to acquire desirable pay offs and if their decisions processes correspond to the processes dictated by utility theory and probability theory. That is, decision-making in the sense of acquisition of desirable payoffs, will be most successful if the attractiveness of each option is summarised as the sum of the probability - discounted utilities corresponding to its potential pay offs and if the decision maker chooses the option which offers the greatest sum.
    • p.11-12, as cited in: Daphne Jane Jones, "Understanding decision-making relating to out-of-authority placements for pupils with autistic spectrum conditions." (2012).
  • Decision making is essentially social behaviour, even when there is nobody else present, because one anticipates how others will react and factors this into the decision. [...] Organizations per se do not make decisions, but individuals in organizations do. And when they do, they must take others into account.
    • p. 23, as cited in: Leentje Volker (2010). Deciding about Design Quality: Value Judgements and Decision Making ... p. 55-56

"Cognitive Errors and the Narrative Nature of Epistemic Thought," 2011


Lee Roy Beach. "Cognitive Errors and the Narrative Nature of Epistemic Thought," In: Brun, W., Keren, G., Kirkebøen, G., & Montgomery, H. (2011). Perspectives on Thinking, Judging, and Decision Making. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. (online text)

  • The Theory of Narrative Thought begins with the assumption that everyday thought is in the form of narratives, which are causally motivated, time-oriented chronicles, or stories, that connect the past and present with the future, thereby giving continuity and meaning to ongoing experience. Narratives are not simply the voice in your head, nor are they simply words, like a novel or a newspaper article. They are a rich mixture of memories and of current visual, auditory, and other aspects of awareness, all laced together by emotions to form a mixture that far surpasses mere words in their ability to capture context and meaning.
  • The elements of narratives are symbols that stand for real or imagined events and actors, where the latter are animate beings or inanimate forces. The glue that binds the elements is causality and implied purpose. The narrative is a temporal arrangement of events that are purposefully caused by animate beings or are the result of inanimate forces. The narrative’s story line is the emergent meaning created by arranging the elements according to time, purpose, and causality. Just as arranging words into sentences creates emergent meaning that unarranged words do not have, and just as arranging sentences into larger units creates even more emergent meaning, arranging events, actors, time, purpose, and causality into a narrative creates the emergent meaning that is its story line or plot.A “good narrative” is coherent and plausible; coherent when effects can be accounted for by causes and plausible when the actions of its actors are consistent with their own or similar actors’ actions across contexts (i.e., across different narratives). We tend to believe that good narratives are valid.