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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes a set of ideas bearing on the structure of action and emotion and how they are regulated. Some of the ideas are associated with the terms feedback control and cybernetics. Those ideas have roots in many sources, including the concept of homeostasis and the creation of mechanical devices to serve as governors for engines. With respect to motivation, the ideas yield a viewpoint in which action is goal directed and reflects a hierarchy of control processes. The creation and reduction of affect are seen as reflecting another set of feedback processes. The portion of the model devoted to affect is of particular interest because it generates two predictions that differ substantially from those deriving from other theories. The first prediction is that both approach and avoidance can give rise to both positive and negative feelings; the second is that positive affect leads to coasting, a reduction in effort regarding the pursued goal. The latter suggests a way in which positive affect is involved in priority management when many goals are in play concurrently. Recent interest in dual process models, which distinguish between top-down guidance of goal pursuit and reflexive responses to cues of the moment, has caused a reexamination of some previous assumptions and consideration of the possibility that behavior emerges in two distinct ways. This line of thought has also recently been applied to conceptualizing diverse types of psychopathology. The chapter closes with brief consideration of how the ideas considered here might be compatible with other viewpoints on motivation.

Keywords: cybernetic, feedback loop, control theory, affect, dual process models

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