Control Processes and Self-Organization as Complementary Principles Underlying Behavior

Charles S. Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


This article addresses the convergence and complementarity between self-regulatory control-process models of behavior and dynamic systems models. The control-process 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). Dynamic systems models tend to emphasize a bottom-up self-organization process, in which a coherence arises from among many simultaneous influences, moving the system toward attractors and away from repellers. We suggest that these differences in emphasis reflect two facets of a more complex reality involving both types of processes. Discussion focuses on how self-organization may occur within constituent elements of a feedback system - the input function, the output function, and goal values being used by the system - and how feedback processes themselves can reflect self-organizing tendencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-315
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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