Self-Regulation Theory: How Optimal Adjustment Maximizes Gain

By Dennis E. Mithaug | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Self-Regulated Doing

All living organisms regulate their behaviors when it is in their best interests to do so. Humans are no different. History is replete with stories of rationally directed achievement. Unfortunately, it also has much to remind us of the irrational and the erratic. Moreover, there are substantial differences in rationally directed pursuits even across cultures. For some, self-regulated adjustment is a habit, a philosophy. For others, independent thinking and acting are intermittent and foreign. Why? How do we explain why some cultures inculcate the spirit of inquiry and the desire for control while others perpetuate belief in tradition and its right to control?

Some social scientists have postulated that the value placed on self-regulated responding in pursuit of goals can explain the widespread adoption of empiricism and its spirit of capitalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is why only a handful of nations now lead the world in the technological age. The value placed on practical, continuous work for tangible, personal goals increased innovation, accelerated industry, and created wealth. The spirit of enterprise generated by moral imperatives translated into commandments to perform work for beneficial result here and now. Supporting this creed was religious doctrine, which placed rationalism in worldly affairs on a par with idealism in divine affairs. The new ethic was pragmatic and utilitarian. It demanded connections between effort expended and results obtained.

In time, rationally controlled pursuit became both cause and consequence of the social transformations that characterized Western Europe during the seventeenth century. As the feudal order dissolved and Catholic monopoly divine access crumbled, individuals assumed greater responsibility for their destinies. Increasingly, personal achievement divorced itself from the Church and the feudal manor. At the same time rationalism and empiricism gained followers, and

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Self-Regulation Theory: How Optimal Adjustment Maximizes Gain
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xv
  • Chapter 1 - The Problem of Adaptation 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 the Nature of Problem Solving 19
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 3 - The Theory of Self-Regulation 43
  • Notes 61
  • Chapter 4 - Self-Regulated Thinking 63
  • Notes 81
  • Chapter 5 - Self-Regulated Doing 85
  • Notes 116
  • Chapter 6 - Maximum Gain 119
  • Notes 146
  • Chapter 7 - Self-Determined Gain 149
  • Notes 178
  • Chapter 8 - Innovative Gain 183
  • Conclusion 205
  • Appendix 209
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 223
  • About the Author 235
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