On the Self-Regulation of Behavior presents a thorough overview of a model of human functioning based on the idea that behavior is goal-directed and regulated by feedback control processes. It describes feedback processes and their application to behavior, considers goals and the idea that goals are organized hierarchically, examines affect as deriving from a different kind of feedback process, and analyzes how success expectancies influence whether people keep trying to attain goals or disengage. Later sections consider a series of emerging themes, including dynamic systems as a model for shifting among goals, catastrophe theory as a model for persistence, and the question of whether behavior is controlled or instead “emerges.” Three chapters consider the implications of these various ideas for understanding maladaptive behavior, and the closing chapter asks whether goals are a necessity of life. Throughout, theory is presented in the context of diverse issues that link the theory to other literatures.
Charles S. Carver is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami. Michael F. Scheier is a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. They have conducted research on personality processes and motivation in a variety of laboratory and applied settings, most recently focusing on the role of personality variables in responding to health crises such as coronary disease and cancer. Their research has been supported by the National Science Foundation; the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Cancer Institute; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the American Cancer Society.