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Abstract

Beginning from the premise that organisms must ‘eat, retreat, and excrete’ to survive, Amoebic Self Theory (AST) posits that humans also struggle for survival of the psychological sense of self – engulfing that which is desirable, resisting external threats, and disposing that which is toxic or redundant. These motives manifest across three related but distinct domains – the bodily, the social, and the spatial-symbolic – as facilitated by a boundary that differentiates ‘self’ from ‘not-self’. AST-inspired research has demonstrated both situational and chronic variation in the strength of these motives across domains, as well as their relevance to a breadth of diverse phenomenon, although advocates of other theoretical perspectives have focused primarily on the ‘dust mites experiment’. After considering their interpretations and claims, a case is made for AST as an integrative, generalist theory that generates novel predictions.