A General Theory of Behaviour – Principles

I) Agency: The voluntary behaviour of conscious organisms is guided by universal striving for equilibrium with purpose, desire and intentionality.

II) Needs Hierarchy: In the hierarchy of needs, Physiological Homeostasis (Type I Homeostasis) is active at level I (Immediate Physiological Needs) and Psychological Homeostasis (Type II Homeostasis) is active at all higher levels from II (Self-Protection) to level VII (Parenting).

NEW Needs Pyramid

III) Communality: Homeostasis of both Types I and II is controlled by a single executive controller in the forebrain.

IV) Steady Stable State: Homeostasis Type II serves the same function for Behaviour as Homeostasis Type I serves for Physiology: the production of a stable and steady state.

V) Entrainment: The internal CLOCK controls physiological and behavioural processes in synchrony with regular changes in the environment.

VI) Coalescence: Synchronicity in shared activity creates cooperation, cohesion and social bonding.

VII) Law of Effect: (A) All voluntary action is determined, at least in part, by the degree of pleasure or displeasure that the action provokes. (B) Any behaviour that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated. (C) Any behaviour that is followed by unpleasant consequences is unlikely to be repeated.

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VIII) Behavioural Inhibition: The Behavioural Inhibition System is activated when there is conflict between competing responses to approach or avoid stimuli.

IX) Consciousness: Consciousness is the central process of the brain that builds images, sets goals, predicts the future and executes voluntary actions.

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X) Mental Imagery: A mental image is a quasi-perceptual simulacrum that includes a goal, schemata, affect and action.

XI) Niche Construction: Any conscious organism strives to enhance the safety, stability and occupation of the socio-physical environment for itself and other organisms under its protection.

XII) Symbiosis: In a symbiotic relationship, each participant experiences an ‘extended self’, a shared set of perspectives, resources and identities in a common pool.

XIII) Emoting: Emoting is rooted in feelings, cognitive appraisal and perceptions. Emoting is artfully constructed to maximise the likelihood of attaining one or more sought-after goal(s).

XIV) Self-Control: Acting as an agent of Type II homeostasis, self-control is one measure of a person’s ability to attain safety and stability, and is predictive of later achievement.

XV) Comfort vs Discontent: In every conscious being exists a tension between comfort and discontent. When the discontent is assuaged, there is comfort. When comfort is resisted, there is discontent. Resolving this conflict is a primary function of Type II homeostasis.

XVI) Addiction: Addiction consists of cyclical alternation between two contradictory goals: an immediate goal to use a substance or activity to reduce negative affect (‘pain’) or enhance positive affect (pleasure) versus a longer-term goal to reduce the use of the substance or activity.

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XVII) Sleeping and Waking: (A) Sleeping and waking are controlled by Type I homeostatic sleep pressure, and the circadian CLOCK in coordination with the Behaviour Control System (BCS)* and Type II homeostasis.  Any of these three processes can override any other but increased sleep pressure, in combination with the CLOCK, ultimately will always produce sleeping. (B) The BCS coordinates the REF, CLOCK, AAI and action schemata systems to produce action in association with affect as shown in this diagram:

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XVIII) Law of Conservation of Energy: In any 24-hour circadian cycle there is a fixed quantity of energy to expend across life goals and domains as behaviour, affect and cognitions.

XIX) Programming: The set ranges of all homeostasis systems are programmed by genetics, epigenetics and early life experience.

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XX) Stability of Subjective Well-Being: Subjective Well-Being (SWB) is homeostatically protected and stable. Changes in SWB are normally reset to a fixed set range within a few months or years.

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Marks, D. F. (2018). A General Theory of Behaviour. SAGE Publications.