Two-mode models of self-regulation and serotonergic functioning: Divergent manifestations of impulse and constraint

Charles S Carver, Sheri L. Johnson, Jutta Joormann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The term “self-regulation” sometimes is used to refer to the process of carrying out an intended behavior by monitoring its consequences to keep it on track (Carver & Scheier, 1998). Sometimes it is used more narrowly to refer to exerting self-control when under the pressure of competing demands (Vohs & Baumeister, 2011). It will be used in both ways in various parts of this chapter. The three of us have been interested in manifestations of self-regulation for some time. One of us is a personality psychologist (CSC); the others are clinical psychologists, with particular interest in mood disorders. This chapter derives from our developing curiosity about a self-regulatory puzzle in personality psychology, which quite unexpectedly led us to different puzzles in neurobiology and genetics, and eventually turned to issues in clinical psychology. The focus of this chapter is on issues of impulse or reactivity versus constraint or deliberative control of action. This distinction is a key aspect of self-regulation. We begin by describing two psychological views on it. We then turn to evidence that serotonergic function helps to promote constraint. In that context we also give some attention to how this system might operate to constrain rather different forms of impulses. More specifically, we consider the idea that serotonergically innervated areas of the brain help modulate the effects of both over-activity and under-activity of underlying systems for approach and avoidance. This idea helps to explain how serotonergic deficits could be involved in a broad set of problems, ranging from antisocial behavior to depression.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelf-Regulation and Autonomy: Social and Developmental Dimensions of Human Conduct
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781139152198, 9781107023697
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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