The evolved function of brain, cognitive, affective, conscious-psychological, and behavioral systems is to enable animals to attempt to gain control of the social (e.g., mates), biological (e.g., prey), and physical (e.g., nesting spots) resources that have tended to covary with survival and reproductive outcomes during the species' evolutionary history. These resources generate information patterns that range from invariant to variant. Invariant information is consistent across generations and within lifetimes (e.g., the prototypical shape of a human face) and is associated with modular brain and cognitive systems that coalesce around the domains of folk psychology, folk biology, and folk physics. The processing of information in these domains is implicit and results in automatic bottom-up behavioral responses. Variant information varies across generations and within lifetimes (e.g., as in social dynamics) and is associated with plastic brain and cognitive systems and explicit, consciously driven top-down behavioral responses. The fundamentals of this motivation-to-control model are outlined and links are made to Henriques' (2004) Tree of Knowledge System and Behavioral Investment Theory. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol.