Development and Psychopathology

Special IssueSelf-OrganizationEditorsDante Cicchetti & Fred A. Rogosch

Reactive and effortful processes in the organization of temperament

a1 Oregon State University
a2 University of Oregon


Self-organization can be approached in terms of developmental processes occurring within and between component systems of temperament. Within-system organization involves progressive shaping of cortical representations by subcortical motivational systems. As cortical representations develop, they feed back to provide motivational systems with enhanced detection and guidance capabilities. These reciprocal influences may amplify the underlying motivational functions and promote excessive impulsivity or anxiety. However, these processes also depend upon interactions arising between motivational and attentional systems. We discuss these between-system effects by considering the regulation of approach motivation by reactive attentional processes related to fear and by more voluntary processes related to effortful control. It is suggested that anxious and impulsive psychopathology may reflect limitations in these dual means of control, which can take the form of overregulation as well as underregulation.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Douglas Derryberry, Department of Psychology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5303.