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Charles S. Carver on Goals - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 428
Goals/feedback loops/self-regulation/psychology/Carver/Scheier: Some (…) [authors think that] feedback loops act only to create and maintain steady states. (>Feedback/Carver/Scheier) Not so. Some goals are static end states.
But others are dynamic and evolving (e.g., the goal of taking a week’s vacation, the goal of raising a child to become a good citizen). In such cases, the ‘goal’ is the process of traversing the changing trajectory of the activity, not just to be at the endpoint. Feedback processes apply perfectly well to moving targets (Beer 1995)(1).
Goals vary in abstractness. You may have the goal of being a good citizen, but you can also have the goal of recycling refuse, a narrower goal that contributes to being a good citizen. Thus, it is often said that goals form a hierarchy (Carver and Scheier 1998(2); Powers 1973(3); Toates 2006(4); Vallacher and Wegner 1987(5)). Abstract goals are attained by the attaining of the concrete goals that help define them. >Affect/Carver/Scheier, >Self-regulation/Carver/Scheier, >Feedback/Carver/Scheier, >Priorities/Carver/Scheier.


1. Beer, R. D. 1995. A dynamical systems perspective on agent-environment interaction, Artificial Intelligence 72: 173–215
2. Carver, C. S. and Scheier, M. F. 1998. On the self-regulation of behaviour. New York: Cambridge University Press
3. Powers, W. T. 1973. Behaviour: the control of perception. Chicago, IL: Aldine
4. Toates, F. 2006. A model of the hierarchy of behaviour, cognition, and consciousness Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal 15: 75–118
5. Vallacher, R. R. and Wegner, D. M. 1987. What do people think they’re doing? Action identification and human behaviour, Psychological Review 94: 3–15


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. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
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, Terrell
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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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-21
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