Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 432
Priorities/self-regulation/control processes/Simon/Carver/Scheier: Problem: shifting from one goal to another as focal in behaviour (Dreisbach and Goschke 2004(1); Shallice 1978)(2).
Corr I 433
This critical phenomenon is often overlooked.
The problem of priority management was addressed many years ago by Simon (1967)(3), who pointed out that any entity with many goals needs a way to rank them for pursuit and a mechanism to change rankings as necessary. He argued as follows: most of people’s goals are largely out of awareness at any given moment. Only the one with the highest priority has full access to consciousness. Sometimes events occur during the pursuit of that top-priority goal that create problems for another goal that currently has a lower priority.
If the situation evolves enough to seriously threaten the second goal, some mechanism is needed for changing priorities, so that the second goal replaces the first one as focal. Negative feelings and shifting prioritization Simon (1967)(3) proposed that emotions are calls for reprioritization. He suggested that emotion arising with respect to a goal that is out of awareness eventually causes people to interrupt their behaviour and give that goal a higher priority than it had. The stronger the emotion, the stronger is the claim being made that the unattended goal should have higher priority than the presently focal goal.
CarverVsSimon/ScheierVsSimon: {Simon] did not address the possibility that an as-yet-unattained goal might yield its place in line. Positive feelings may represent a reprioritization cue, but a cue to reduce the priority of the goal to which the feeling pertains.
Corr I 434
Affect/goals/Carver/Scheier: Thesis: affect is part of the prioritization process. We are not claiming that affect is the only source of shifts in goal prioritization. Opportunities to attain incentives sometimes appear unexpectedly, and people put aside their plans to take advantage of them (Hayes-Roth and Hayes-Roth 1979(4); Payton 1990(5)).


1. Dreisbach, G. and Goschke, T. 2004. How positive affect modulates cognitive control: reduced perseveration at the cost of increased distractibility, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 30: 343–53
2. Shallice, T. 1978. The dominant action system: an information-processing approach to consciousness, in K. S. Pope and J. L. Singer (eds.), The stream of consciousness: scientific investigations into the flow of human experience, pp. 117–57. New York: Wiley
3. Simon, H. A. 1967. Motivational and emotional controls of cognition, Psychological Review 74: 29–39
4. Hayes-Roth, B. and Hayes-Roth, F. 1979. A cognitive model of planning, Cognitive Science3: 275–310
5. Payton, D. W. 1990. Internalized plans: a representation for action resources, in P. Maes (ed.),Designing autonomous agents: theory and practice from biology to engineering and back, pp. 89–103. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press


Charles S. Carver and Michael F. Scheier, “Self-regulation and controlling personality functioning” in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Carver, Charles S.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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