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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In humanistic psychology, autonomy, internalization, and the self constitute fundamental concepts to explain adaptive behavior and well-being. However, the momentary mental processes, their interactions, and individual differences that constitute a causal fundament for these concepts are yet underexplored. The authors will analyze these processes against the backdrop of a functional approach, Personality Systems Interactions Theory, which conceives the self as one out of several neurocognitive systems and highlights its role for autonomous motivation and self-regulation. We attempt to provide answers to questions such as the following: Which momentary mental processes and underlying neurocognitive systems (e.g., large-scale brain networks) facilitate the establishment of stages of internalization? Can the self become inhibited in a way that even highly internalized goals and values may not manifest in behavior? Which role does the self play in emotion regulation and decision-making, and how do these processes in turn facilitate autonomous behavior? The authors believe that the present functional analysis advances a conciliation between a phenomenologically-oriented, humanities view and a process-oriented natural science view on human motivation.

Keywords: self-determination theory, personality systems interactions theory, predictive and reactive control systems theory, functional approach, autonomous motivation, intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, emotion regulation, action orientation, decision-making, cognitive dissonance reduction, affective consonance production, self-access, self-actualization, self-infiltration, volition

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