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Scaling back goals and recalibration of the affect system are processes in normal adaptive self-regulation: understanding 'response shift' phenomena.

journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2000 by Charles S. Carver, Michael Scheier

This comment addresses a set of phenomena that have been labeled 'response shift'. We argue that many of these phenomena reflect recalibration of a goal-seeking system and an affect-management system, both of which are involved in normal adaptive self-regulation. In brief, we hold that these systems act as feedback control mechanisms. The reference values for both systems continuously undergo gradual recalibration. Because in most circumstances the adjustments tend to occur with equivalent frequency in both directions, their cumulative effect is minimal. In situations of either unusually prolonged goal attainment (and overattainment) or unusually prolonged adversity (as occurs, e.g., with deteriorating health), the cumulative effect can be substantial. We believe that these latter recalibrations of reference value account for many response shift phenomena. Other such phenomena are accounted for by the principle of hierarchical organization among the self-regulatory goals that comprise the self.

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01/06/2000

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