The firepower of work craving: When self-control is burning under the rubble of self-regulation.

Wojdylo, K., Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169729

Work craving theory addresses how work-addicted individuals direct great emotion-regulatory efforts to weave their addictive web of working. They crave work for two main emotional incentives: to overcompensate low self-worth and to escape (i.e., reduce) negative affect, which is strategically achieved through neurotic perfectionism and compulsive working. Work-addicted individuals’ strong persistence and self-discipline with respect to work-related activities suggest strong skills in volitional action control. However, their inability to disconnect from work implies low volitional skills. How can work-addicted individuals have poor and strong volitional skills at the same time? To answer this paradox, we elaborated on the relevance of two different volitional modes in work craving: self-regulation (self-maintenance) and self-control (goal maintenance). Four hypotheses were derived from Wojdylo’s work craving theory and Kuhl’s self-regulation theory: (H1) Work craving is associated with a combination of low self-regulation and high self-control. (H2) Work craving is associated with symptoms of psychological distress. (H3) Low self-regulation is associated with psychological distress symptoms. (H4) Work craving mediates the relationships between self-regulation deficits and psychological distress symptoms at high levels of self-control. Additionally, we aimed at supporting the discriminant validity of work craving with respect to work engagement by showing their different volitional underpinnings. Results of the two studies confirmed our hypotheses: whereas work craving was predicted by high self-control and low self-regulation and associated with higher psychological distress, work engagement was predicted by high self-regulation and high self-control and associated with lower symptoms of psychological distress. Furthermore, work styles mediated the relationship between volitional skills and symptoms of psychological distress. Based on these new insights, several suggestions for prevention and therapeutic interventions for work-addicted individuals are proposed.



Live to work or love to work: Work craving and work engagement.

Wojdylo, K., Baumann, N., Fischbach, L. & Engeser, S.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106379

According to the theory of work craving, a workaholic has a craving for self-worth compensatory incentives and an expectation of relief from negative affect experienced through neurotic perfectionism and an obsessive-compulsive style of working. Research has shown that workaholism and work engagement should be considered as two distinct work styles with different health consequences. However, the mechanisms underlying the adoption of these work styles have been neglected. The present study proposes that work craving and work engagement are differentially associated with self-regulatory competencies and health. In particular, we expected that the working styles mediate the relationships between emotional self-regulation and health. Methods: In the cross-sectional study, 469 teachers from German schools completed online administered questionnaires. By means of structural equation modeling, we tested two indirect paths: a) from self-relaxation deficits via work craving to poor health and b) from self-motivation competencies via work engagement to good health.

As expected, we found evidence that a) the negative relationship of self-relaxation deficits on health was partially mediated by work craving and b) the positive relationship of self-motivation competencies on health was partially mediated by work engagement.

The present study emphasizes the importance of self-regulation competencies for healthy or unhealthy work styles. Whereas work craving was associated with a low ability to down-regulate negative emotions and poor health, work engagement was associated with a high ability to up-regulate positive emotions and good health.



Selbstregulation und Selbstkontrolle.

Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J.

Selbstregulation und Selbstkontrolle sind zwei unterschiedliche Formen willentlicher Steuerung, die notwendige Schlüsselkompetenzen für Manager darstellen, um sich selbst und andere zu steuern (vgl. Tab. 1). Diese grundlegenden Steuerungskompetenzen sind jedoch nur hinreichend, wenn sie auch unter Stress effizient eingesetzt werden können. Die Auswirkungen einer stressbedingten Ineffizienz im Einsatz der Kompetenzen werden als Willenshemmung (Verlust der Selbstkontrolle) und Selbsthemmung (Verlust der Selbstregulation) bezeichnet (vgl. Tab.1). Diese vier Funktionskomponenten der Selbststeuerung werden nachfolgend erläutert und weiter dekomponiert. Sie lassen sich sowohl durch Fragebogen(Kuhl & Fuhrmann, 1998) als auch nicht-reaktive Methoden erfassen (vgl. Kuhl, 2000, 2001).

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

You are not alone: Relatedness reduces adverse effects of state orientation on well-being under stress.

Chatterjee, M. B., Baumann, N., & Osborne, D.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213476895

A low ability to self-regulate emotions (state orientation) is associated with reduced well-being—especially under stress. Until now, research has approached this topic from an asocial perspective that views the self as devoid from relatedness concerns. However, people are social creatures who benefit from their relationships with others. As such, we expected that personally valuing (Study 1) and experimentally priming (Study 2) a sense of relatedness with others would act as a buffer against stress-related impairments in state-oriented individuals. In Study 1, high (vs. low) benevolence values removed the adverse effect of state orientation on well-being found under stressful life circumstances. In Study 2, focusing on similarities (vs. differences) while comparing oneself with a friend removed the adverse effect of state orientation on recovery from a negative mood induction. Our findings suggest that individuals with low self-regulatory competencies may profit from valuing and directing their attention toward their relatedness with others.


Advances in flow research

Autotelic personality.

Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-2359-1_9

This chapter reflects the search for more stable causes of flow experiences such as “flow personality” or “autotelic personality.” Although flow research is primarily concerned with flow as a motivational state, Csikszentmihalyi has introduced the concept of an autotelic personality, that is, a disposition to actively seek challenges and flow experiences. This chapter starts with an overview of Csikszentmihalyi’s conceptual ideas and phenomenological descriptions of autotelic personalities. Unfortunately, the rich concept was not complemented by an adequate operationalization. The chapter continues with a review of personality dispositions which can be conceived of as boundary conditions for flow experience. They reflect differences either in the need (achievement motive) or in the ability (self-regulation) to experience flow. The concept of an autotelic personality should encompass both aspects simultaneously. Next, the achievement flow motive (nAchFlow) is introduced which integrates need and ability aspects. As such, nAchFlow will be proposed as a way to operationalize an autotelic personality. Finally, the chapter offers a functional analysis of flow in achievement contexts within the framework of personality systems interaction (PSI) theory and gives an outlook.

Medical Hypotheses

Placebo forte: Ways to maximize unspecific treatment effects.

Schneider, R., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2012.02.022

Placebo effects spark more and more interest in both medicine and psychotherapy. Neurobiological findings have helped to understand underlying biochemical and neurological mechanisms although many questions remain to be answered. One common denominator of empirical findings regarding placebo effects across a wide range of clinical conditions (e.g., depression, Parkinson's disease, pain, neurological disorders) is the involvement of higher cognitive brain functions associated with the prefrontal cortex. It is meanwhile commonly accepted that placebo effects involve self-regulatory mechanisms whose role in mediating those effects have not been thoroughly investigated yet. We propose a theoretical framework which helps to identify relevant functional mechanisms. Drawing on psychological findings, we propose a mechanism by which placebo effects can be maximized in any type of medical and psychotherapeutic setting.


Personality and Social Psychology Review

Why religion’s burdens are light: From religious practice to implicit self-regulation.

Koole, S.L., McCullough, M.E., Kuhl, J., & Roelofsma, P.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868309351109

To maintain religious standards, individuals must frequently endure aversive or forsake pleasurable experiences. Yet religious individuals on average display higher levels of emotional well-being compared to non-religious individuals. The present article seeks to resolve this paradox by suggesting that many forms of religion may facilitate a self-regulatory mode that is flexible, efficient, and largely unconscious. In this implicit mode of self-regulation, religious individuals may be able to strive for high standards and simultaneously maintain high emotional well-being. A review of the empirical literature confirmed that religious stimuli and practices foster implicit self-regulation, particularly among individuals who fully internalized their religion's standards. The present work suggests that some seemingly irrational aspects of religion may have important psychological benefits by promoting implicit self-regulation.

Zeitschrift für Qualitative Forschung. Schwerpunkt: Methodenintegration

Ein methodenintegratives Interventionsprojekt zur Selbstregulation von Schülerinnen und Schülern.

Kiegelmann, M. & Baumann, N.

High school students (grade 11) were to be supported by an educational intervention to strengthen their ability for self motivation. The effects of the intervention were evaluated via an approach that integrates quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative effects were measured by paper and pencil surveys and by using non-reactive measures of reaction time in a computer based experiment. Qualitative data were collected by interview. Descriptions of experiences with the intervention as well as the students’ school relevant abilities for self motivation were in the center of the qualitative part. Results show in both data sets that who benefitted from the intervention in the reaction time measures were those high school students that initially showed a deficit in self motivation. However, dissociations showed between knowing and doing: After the intervention it was those students with initial deficit in self motivation who were more able to put into practice challenging intentions in the computer experiment (action). In the survey, however, they did not express significant changes in their abilities for self motivation (knowledge). Similarly, the qualitative analyses showed dissociations between action and knowledge. Results of both methods are compatible to the assumption that self motivation can be intuitive.


Learning and Individual Differences

Self-regulation advantage for high-IQ children: Findings from a research study.

Calero, M. D., García-Martín, M. B., Jiménez, M. I., Kazén, M., & Araque A.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2007.03.012

Current approaches in intelligence research indicate the need for a more extensive determination of characteristics of children with possible giftedness, not only at an intellectual level, but also at the level of self-regulation and motivation. The present study compares self-regulation efficiency between high-IQ and average-ability children aged 6 to 11 years using a computerized task: The ‘Self-regulation and concentration test for children’ [SRTC, Kuhl, J. & Kraska, K. (1993). Self-regulation: Psychometric properties of a computer-aided instrument. The German Journal of Psychology, 17, 11–24]. Results show that high-IQ children have better self-regulatory abilities than a comparable group of average-ability children. In addition, self-regulation efficiency is related to working memory and action orientation (i.e., self-motivation). It is concluded that the assessment of self-regulation is important both for the research and practice related to children with high intellectual ability.


Das Selbst, das Gehirn und der freie Wille: Kann man Selbststeuerung auch ohne Willensfreiheit trainieren? [The self, the brain and free will: Can self-management be learned without free will?].

Kuhl, J.,& Hüther, G.

Über aktuelle Erkenntnisse der Neurobiologie wird die Frage nach der Bedeutung des freien Willens auch in die Pädagogik und die Erziehungswissenschaft hineingetragen. Dabei stellen Neurobiologen wie Singer die Frage, ob es so etwas wie Willensfreiheit überhaupt gibt. Zentrale Fragen des pädagogischen Alltags wie die der Selbstverantwortung und der Selbststeuerung des Lernens sind aber ohne freien Willen nur schwer vorstellbar. Die Autoren weisen mit Argumenten der Neurobiologie nach, dass das Selbst und die Willensfreiheit eine wesentliche Form der Verhaltensanbahnung ist.


Applied Psychology: An International Review

Putting self-regulation theory into practice: A user’s manual.

Kuhl,J., Kazén, M., & Koole, S. L.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.2006.00260.x

Cervone, Shadel, Smith, and Fiori (2006) propose that theories of personality architecture may provide an integrative theoretical framework for self-regulation research. Building further on this argument, the present paper considers one comprehensive modern approach to personality architecture, personality systems interactions (PSI) theory. The authors provide a brief overview of PSI theory and discuss a simple, three-step "user's manual" that has guided applications of the theory to real-life behavior. Work on PSI theory highlights some of the integrative potential of personality science in the field of self-regulation. The authors conclude that theories of personality architecture may improve the quality and precision of the counselling, coaching, and training that psychologists in many diverse areas provide.


European Psychologist

Self-regulation after mortality salience: National pride feelings of action-oriented German participants.

Kazén, M., Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040.10.3.218

This research investigates mortality salience (MS) and national pride in Germany, a country in which, for historical reasons, attitudes toward the nation are negatively valued. Within this cultural context, utilizing national pride as a coping strategy for dealing with MS may require well-developed self-regulatory abilities: It was hypothesized that the typical increment in national pride after induced MS would be confined to action-oriented individuals, who are able to self-regulate after exposure to threatening information. Two studies with German participants showed that they negatively evaluated national pride. Consistent with expectations, action-oriented participants in the MS condition revalued this symbol and also gave higher attractiveness ratings to attributes related to their own culture. Results remained unchanged after controlling for participants' self-esteem. The combined role of self-regulation and culture in terror management is discussed.

Handbuch der Persönlichkeitspsychologie und Differentiellen Psychologie

Selbstregulation und Selbstkontrolle. [Self-regulation and self-control].

Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J.

Selbstregulation und Selbstkontrolle sind zwei unterschiedliche Formen willentlicher Steuerung, die notwendige Schlüsselkompetenzen für Manager darstellen, um sich selbst und andere zu steuern (vgl. Tab. 1). Diese grundlegenden Steuerungskompetenzen sind jedoch nur hinreichend, wenn sie auch unter Stress effizient eingesetzt werden können. Die Auswirkungen einer stressbedingten Ineffizienz im Einsatz der Kompetenzen werden als Willenshemmung (Verlust der Selbstkontrolle) und Selbsthemmung (Verlust der Selbstregulation) bezeichnet (vgl. Tab.1). Diese vier Funktionskomponenten der Selbststeuerung werden nachfolgend erläutert und weiter dekomponiert. Sie lassen sich sowohl durch Fragebogen (Kuhl & Fuhrmann, 1998) als auch nicht-reaktive Methoden erfassen (vgl. Kuhl, 2000, 2001)


Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie

Neurotizismus und Kreativität: Strukturelle Unterschiede in der Beeinflussung kreativer Leistung. [Neuroticism and creativity: Structural differences in the determination of creative performance].

Biebrich, R., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1024//0170-1789.23.2.171

This study examines the influence on creative problem solving of personality dispositions, on the one hand, and of certain moderating variables (such as state anxiety and various self-regulatory processes), on the other hand. On the basis of theoretical considerations, a system of influential factors is developed and tested separately for individuals with high and low scores for neuroticism (36 subjects in each group) using path analysis (LISREL 8). Between these groups structural differences concerning the influences on creative performance were obtained. In individuals with high neuroticism creative performance is largely influenced by personality dispositions - trait anxiety and trait curiosity (openness to new experiences) -, whereas, in individuals with low neuroticism, personality dispositions had no significant influence on creative performance, instead self-regulatory processes played a dominant role. The findings are discussed with regard to the functional significance of self-regulation for individuals with high and low neuroticism, respectively.

Zeitschrift für Psychologie

Selbststeuerung und affektive Sensibilität: persönlichkeitsspezifische Antezedenzien der Depressivität [Self-regulation and affective sensitivity: Personality-related antecedents of depression].

Biebrich, R., Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1026//0044-3409.210.2.74

This study investigates the antidepressant effect of self-regulatory processes. On the basis of the multifactorial model of depression (Hautzinger, 1983, 1991; Lewinsohn et al., 1985) and self-regulation theory (Kuhl, 1998a, 2000a, 2001), a conceptual model was developed so that various self-regulatory mechanisms could be tested as to their efficiency. Empirical testing was carried out by means of path analysis (LISREL 8) and regression analysis. Two groups of subjects with either high or low neuroticism were compared (36 subjects in each group). The most efficient self-regulatory processes were obtained for each group: Subjects scoring high on neuroticism benefited most from self-congruent generation of goals (self-determination“) whereas subjects scoring low on neuroticism benefited from fast and energetic goal enactment (”initiative“). Results are discussed with respect to the differential effect of the activation of the self-system on coping effectiveness for individuals characterized by high versus low emotional sensitivity.


Control of human behavior, mental processes and consciousness

Regulation and Rumination: Negative Affect and Impaired Self-Accessibility.

Kuhl, J., & Baumann, N.

Focuses on one of the introspectively accessible concomitants of self-regulatory competence, namely 'uncontrollable rumination,' and provides a brief summary of the authors' theory of volition, and the theory of personality in which it is embedded (Kuhl, 1994, 1997). Specifically, two types of rumination are distinguished that relate to informed vs uninformed self-incongruence (or 'unwantedness') of task-irrelevant intrusions. To the extent that these two types of rumination depend on different affective conditions, they can be applied to the assessment of different types of self-regulation associated with the positive and negative affective systems. It may be further concluded, that people leaning toward overcontrol (a) may be identified on the basis on uninformed self-incongruence of task-irrelevant intrusions, and (b) cannot learn to take advantage of the positive effects of self-reward over self-punishment strategies until they develop the ability to integrate explicit goals into their implicit self-representations.

Handbook of Self-Regulation

A functional-design approach to motivation and self-regulation: The dynamics of personality systems interactions.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012109890-2/50034-2

This chapter explores the mechanisms underlying motivation and self-regulation from a functional-design perspective. Traditional approaches emphasize the mediating role of beliefs and other cognitive contents. An example of this approach is classical expectancy–value theory according to which a student's motivation to invest time and effort depends on his or her expectation of success and on the perceived value of good achievement. Learned helplessness is a practical example that illustrates the difference between content-based and functional explanations: After exposure to uncontrollable failure, many people lose their motivation and show impaired performance just as depressed patients do in response to adverse life conditions. According to traditional theorizing, those motivational and cognitive deficits are attributable to negative beliefs, such as pessimistic beliefs about one's own abilities. In contrast, according to a functional account, pessimistic beliefs and motivational deficits are consequences rather than causes of performance deficits that occur when people are confronted with uncontrollable failure: Experimental evidence shows that generalized pessimistic control beliefs typically occur after, not before, people develop symptoms of helplessness and depression. According to these findings, learned helplessness and depression cannot be remedied through making people believe in their abilities as attempted in cognitive therapy until one has established the necessary abilities. Specifying the mechanisms that underlie self-regulatory abilities is the target of functional approaches to self-regulation.


Motivation and self-regulation across the life span

Decomposing self-regulation and self-control: The volitional components inventory.

Kuhl, J., Fuhrmann, A.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511527869.003

Introduces a questionnaire, the Volitional Components Inventory (VCI), based on a theory of volition. This theory postulates 2 different modes of volition: self-control and self-regulation. According to the central assumption underlying the questionnaire, volitional processes have to be seen in conjunction with processes relating the "self" (the integrated and implicit representation of a person's experiences, beliefs, and needs) to individual goals and others' expectations. Specific issues addressed include: a theory of volition; the development of self-control and self-regulation; a personality framework for the study of volition; decomposing volition in subjective experience; a detailed overview of the internal structure of the instrument; basic functions within the self-regulatory mode of volition; basic functions within the self-control mode of volition; volitional self-reflection; inhibition of volitional competences under stressful or demanding conditions: state orientation; scales assessing symptoms of spontaneous control; empirical findings; and VCI correlates of the Big Five Personality Dimensions.


Development and Psychopathology

Nature and autonomy: An organizational view of social and neurobiological aspects of self-regulation in behavior and development.

Ryan, R. M., Kuhl, J., & Deci, E. L.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954579497001405

The concepts of self-regulation and autonomy are examined within an organizational framework. We begin by retracing the historical origins of the organizational viewpoint in early debates within the field of biology between vitalists and reductionists, from which the construct of self-regulation emerged. We then consider human autonomy as an evolved behavioral, developmental, and experiential phenomenon that operates at both neurobiological and psychological levels and requires very specific supports within higher order social organizations. We contrast autonomy or true self-regulation with controlling regulation (a nonautonomous form of intentional behavior) in phenomenological and functional terms, and we relate the forms of regulation to the developmental processes of intrinsic motivation and internalization. Subsequently, we describe how self-regulation versus control may be characterized by distinct neurobiological underpinnings, and we speculate about some of the adaptive advantages that may underlie the evolution of autonomy. Throughout, we argue that disturbances of autonomy, which have both biological and psychological etiologies, are central to many forms of psychopathology and social alienation.


Applied Psychology: An International Review

Recurrent issues in self-regulation research: A rejoinder.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.1992.tb00695.x

J. Kuhl responds to 6 commentaries on his article (see record 1992-37869-001) on a theory of self-regulation. Issues discussed refer to the mental architecture underlying the theory of self-regulation, the adaptiveness issue, the trait vs state issue, functional vs motivational explanations, the self-discrimination concept, the disengagement concept, and the relationship between commitment and performance. Also discussed are E. Klinger's (see record 1992-37867-001) need for structure and a meta-theoretical issue related to stability vs change in psychological theorizing.


Learning and Individual Differences

Self-Regulation and metamotivation: Computational mechanisms, development, and assessment.

Kuhl, J., & Kraska, K.

For several decades, psychological research on learning has focused on cognitive abilities and motivational factors as the two fundamental types of determinants of performance. In recent years, a third class of variables has been studied intensively. These variables refer to metacognitive processes that coordinate the cognitive skills involved in memory, reading, text comprehension, and so on (Brown, 1978; Flavell & Wellman, 1977; Weinert & Kluwe, 1987). For example, after children have acquired some metacognitive knowledge about the functional characteristics of memory, they start using this knowledge to improve memory performance (e.g. by testing their performance level, rehearsing the material when necessary). Compared to the extensive metacognitive research performed in recent years, higher-level skills controlling motivational processes have been neglected in research on learning. In this chapter, we would like to summarize some of our work related to metamotivation.


Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Functional characteristics of human self-control.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00054078

The tendency to choose a larger, more delayed reinforce over a smaller, less delayed one has frequently been termed “self-control.” Three very different research traditions – two models emphasizing the control of local contingencies of reinforcement (Mischel’s social learning theory and Herrnstein’s matching law) and molar maximization models (specifically optimal foraging theory) – have all investigated behaviour within the self-control paradigm. A framework is proposed to integrate research from all three research areas. This framework consists of three parts: a procedural analysis, a causal analysis, and a theoretical analysis. The procedural analysis provides a common procedural terminology for all three areas. The causal analysis establishes that, in all three research traditions, self-control varies directly with the current physical values of the reinforcers; that is, choices increase with reinforce amount and decrease with reinforce delay. But self-control also varies according to past events to which a subject has been exposed, and according to current factors other than the reinforcers. Each of the three models has therefore incorporated these indirect effects on self-control by postulating unobservable mechanisms. In all three cases, these mechanisms represent a subject’s behaviour as a function of a perceived environment. The theoretical analysis demonstrates that evolutionary theory can encompass the research from all three areas by considering differences in the adaptiveness of self-control in different situations. This integration provides a better and more predictive description of self-control.


Aging and the psychology of control

Aging and models of control: The hidden costs of wisdom.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315760537

Various psychological models of control are summarized and critically evaluated. A distinction is made between models of perceived control and models of actual control mechanisms. Models of perceived control are discussed in terms of the type of expectancy constructs they are based on, for example, subjective probability of positive or negative outcomes (learned helplessness), and perceived ability to enact intended actions (self-efficacy). Models of actual control are evaluated in terms of various aspects of the ability to control, that is, environmental contingencies, efficiency of cognitive and motor skills, ability to perform behavioural components, and self-regulatory skills. An information-processing model of action control, which focuses in the last aspect, is described and experimental evidence supporting this model is summarized. Finally, the value of the various models for explaining empirical indications of psychogenic acceleration of aging is discussed.


Action control: From cognition to behaviour

From cognition to behavior: Perspectives for future research on action control.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-69746-3_12

The preceding chapters of this volume have presented theory and evidence regarding various processes intervening between cognition and action. We have seen how a traditional Expectancy x Value model of reasoned action can be elaborated to incorporate variables that moderate cognition-behavior correspondence (Ajzen, Chapter 2), and how an analysis of the processes underlying cognitive predictors of behavior can contribute to a fuller understanding of the cognition-behavior link (Kruglanski & Klar, Chapter 3). Moreover, whether or not a cognitive state results in action depends upon the type of goals activated at the time (Gollwitzer & Wicklund, Chapter 4), upon the efficiency of self-regulatory processes controlling the maintenance and protection of action-related cognitions (Chapters 5–8), and upon the processes underlying problem-solving and performance control (Chapters 9–11). Rather than summarizing the details of these chapters again (see Chapter 1 for a summary), we would like to reflect upon the more general lessons that can be learned from the analyses of various action-control processes.

Action control: From cognition to behaviour

Historical perspectives in the study of action control.

Kuhl, J., & Beckmann, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-69746-3_5

In his summary of a socio-genetic theory of voluntary regulation, Leontiev (1932) describes a strategy the Chinese mailman used to avoid getting distracted while delivering an urgent telegram. “He organizes his own behavior, creating for himself additional stimuli. He hangs a number of subjects — a piece of coal, a pen, and some pepper on the end of a short rod. This he keeps before his eyes on the road. This will remind him that he must fly like a bird, run as if he was stepping on hot coals or had burnt himself with pepper” (Leontiev, 1932, p. 57). This example illustrates a strategy of voluntary regulation which presumably facilitates cognition-behavior consistency. Whether or not a cognition suggesting a certain action results in its enactment depends on the actor’s ability to apply appropriate self-regulatory strategies.

Action control: From cognition to behaviour

Volitional determinants of cognition-behavior consistency: Self-regulatory processes and action versus state orientations.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-69746-3_6

One of the most striking discrepancies between everyday experience and psychological theorizing concerns the complexity of motivational states. While most psychologists tend to focus on a single behavioural domain (e.g., achievement, affiliation, eating, learning, problem solving, sex, etc.), we know from everyday experience that people very rarely seem to have just one behavioural inclination in a given situation. In everyday life people usually experience several motivational tendencies simultaneously and more often than not have multiple commitments to a variety of goals. At first glance our task — to explain and predict which of the competing action tendencies a person actually will implement in a given situation — seems to boil down to the objective of establishing the dominant (i. e., strongest) action tendency among all the competing tendencies (e. g., Atkinson & Birch, 1970).

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