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Specific mechanism is activated may be a function of

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specific mechanism is activated may be a function ofexperienced relatedness.Although humans innately tend toward autonomy,competence, and relatedness, these tendencies are notthe only determinants of behavior, and they can be con-strained or subverted by other factors such as rewards,punishments, and rituals of specific cultures. What isuniversal is not the behavioral outcomes, but rather therelation between affordances for need satisfaction andthe expression of motivational tendencies. We furthersuggest that the very concept of well-being, which hasbeen associated with experiences of autonomy, com-petence, and relatedness (Ryff, 1995), bespeaks anevolved preference for functioning in ways that areconsistent with the satisfaction of psychological needs,as opposed to functioning in controlled or compensa-tory modes.General Tendencies and SpecificMechanismsAs noted, much current evolutionary theorizing fo-cuses on modular, domain-specific mechanisms, typi-cally hinged to particular environmental inputs (Buss,1989; Mischel & Shoda, 1995). We, however, considerthree types of broad tendencies that we characterize ascross-domain aspects of the human functional designthat influence, act as constraints on, and even mediatethe evolution of more specialized, narrow mecha-nisms. These general tendencies, themselves, appear toprovide reproductive advantage, but, unlike narroweradaptations, they have considerable openness or plas-ticity in focus and expression even within individu-als—they are displayed in different ways at differentperiods in the life span and in different social environ-ments. The existence of general tendencies that can berefined during ontogeny is, in fact, one of the featuresof human nature that separates it from organismswhose brain development and response patterns areless experience dependent. Additionally, considerableevidence suggests common factors by which the variedexpressions of common needs are supported or under-mined across domains and developmental epochs.These invariant patterns further justify considering ba-sic psychological needs as molar constructs.We further argue that one can consider the generalfunctions we ascribe to needs as part of the architectureof mind that helps coordinate and activate lower orderadaptations (see also Midgley, 1995). In this regard,Tooby and Cosmides (1992) stated that, “emotions ap-pear to be designed to solve a certain category of regu-latory problems that inevitably emerges in a mind fullof disparate, functionally specialized mechanisms” (p.99). Although they did not elaborate this point, it doesreveal a recognition of the importance of some higherorder self-regulation of behavioral propensities. Still,we argue that needs rather than emotions better servethis function because emotions themselves must beself-regulated for effective functioning, and the basicpsychological needs are centrally involved in the pro-cesses by which this self-regulation occurs. Emotions,when not brought under regulatory management by theself, can be associated with a variety of maladaptiveconsequences.

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Term
Spring
Professor
brondolo
Tags
Richard M Ryan

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