Control Processes and Self-Organization as Complementary Principles Underlying Behavior

  • Carver C
  • Scheier M
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This article addresses the convergence and complementarity between self-regulatory control-process models of behavior and dynamic systems models. The control-pro- cess view holds that people have a goal in mind and try to move toward it (or away from it), monitoring the extent to which a discrepancy remains between the goal and one's present state and taking steps to reduce the discrepancy (or enlarge it). Dy- namic systems models tend to emphasize a bottom-up self-organization process, in which a coherence arisesfrom among many simultaneous influences, moving the sys- tem toward attractors and awayfrom repellers. We suggest that these differences in emphasis reflect two facets of a more complex reality involving both types ofpro- cesses. Discussionfocuses on how self-organization may occur within constituent el- ements ofafeedback system the inputfunction, the outputfunction, and goal values being used by the system-and howfeedbackprocesses themselves can reflect self-or- ganizing tendencies.

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