RESOURCE.PCT 2 of 2 continued
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SAY IF THEY WOULDN'T THINK I'M A NUT Or,
Overgeneralizations that aren't that far over.
William T. Powers, 1989
When you study human beings, remember that you are a human being.
You can't do anything that they can't do. You think with a human
brain, experience with human senses, act on the world as human
beings experience a world. Whatever you say about them is true
about you. Whatever you can do, they can do.
Understanding human nature means more than having a large
vocabulary. You experience the world at many levels, some lower
than symbols and some higher. If you try to understand by using
nothing but words, you'll miss most of the picture. What most
people call "intellectual" is really just "verbal." If you always
use the same terms to refer to the same idea, it's not an idea but
a verbal pattern. Most important words don't mean much. Words that
"everybody knows" don't mean anything. Words that are used to
describe psychological phenomena are almost all informal laymen's
terms that have negative scientific meaning: they imply the
existence of things that don't exist, like "intelligence" or
"aggressiveness" or "altruism." Or "conditioning" or "habits" or
"aptitudes" or--see the literature.
Knowledge isn't what you can remember or name: it's what you can
work out from scratch any time you need to, from basic principles.
The behavioral sciences don't have any basic principles. None,
that is, that would survive scientific testing.
Statistical findings are worse than useless. They give the
illusion of knowledge. Even when they're true for a population,
they're false when applied to any given person. To rely on
statistics as a way of understanding how people work is to take up
superstition in the name of science. It's to formalize prejudice.
When you propose an explanation of human behavior, you ought to
make sure that the explanation works in its own terms: what
exactly does it predict? Most explanations in the behavioral
sciences consist of describing a phenomenon, saying "because," and
then describing it again in slightly different words.
Perceptual control theory may have a long way to go as a theory of
human nature, but it's the only theory that deals with individuals
and accepts them as autonomous, thinking, aware entities. You
might say that thinking about them that way is what makes control
theory possible to understand. Using control theory, you don't
have to ignore individuals who deviate from the average. Using
control theory you can propose explanations that you can test.
Using control theory you can learn that scientific understanding
isn't any different from ordinary understanding. A scientist would
judge that a cooling device used in regions of very low ambient
temperatures would be inefficient, and you can't sell a
refrigerator to an Eskimo, either.
But never forget that science bought Phlogiston for 150 years, and
stimulus-response theory--so far--for 350 years. We're still
crawling our way out of one system of faith into the next, still
looking for dry land and solid ground. Is control theory the new
faith? Not as long as you can forget everything you've memorized
and reason it out for yourself.
THE NATURE OF HPCT
PCT offers a clear explanation for the pervasive phenomenon of
simple control. HPCT outlines a hierarchical arrangement as the
likely organization of multiple control systems in humans.
The kind of explanation HPCT offers for human behavior is the kind
of explanation responsible for the successes of modern
Just hold up a finger in front of you and bend it. Notice that
just before it bends, you will it to bend. The willing and the
bending are facts we experience. How can you explain this
phenomenon of behavior?
A "popular theory" approach has been to describe appearances in
terms of themselves. Life scientists think and talk in terms of
reflex, stimulus and response, affordances, conditioning,
reinforcement, and cognition--terms which give phenomena new names
without actually explaining them. Much research in the life
sciences is focused on accumulating descriptions where weak
statistical correlations suggest mysterious causal relationships.
An "engineering theory" approach is to suggest and describe the
*properties* and *organization* of elements which when they
interact with each other and their environment produce the kind of
behavior we observe. Thus an engineering theory approach proposes
a *model* or *simulation* of an underlying set of properties and
causal relationships which are invisible and cannot be experienced
directly, but where we gain confidence through repeated successful
experimentation. Engineers learn to visualize and think in terms
of models and simulations in the course of their training as they
repeat the basic experiments which define the many invisible "laws
of nature" or "first principles" of engineering science. In
practice, engineers deduce properties of new designs from these
first principles and the behavior of the designs from the
properties. Engineers predict the performance of a design or model
in various environments and circumstances. Thus they predict
experiences they have not yet had, and with confidence. The
in-depth understanding fostered by the approach of modern
engineering theory is the reason for spectacular progress in the
engineering sciences in the last several centuries.
Your bending of the finger (converting your thought into action)
is an example of control with a changing reference signal.
Behavior "emerges" from the natural properties of control systems
as they interact with their environment. In engineering, control
has been well explained only since the 1930's. In the life
sciences of today, control is not yet part of the explanation for
behavior. Thus life scientists attempting to explain
"finger-bending behavior" do so without recognizing or
understanding the organization and properties of the basic
organizing principle of behavior.
HPCT offers a new explanation for human experience. It is
technically elegant, conceptually simple, testable, and better
than "common sense." The principles of HPCT are readily understood
by any attentive person. In practice, a person who has learned
HPCT can deduce properties of organisms and people from the
principles of HPCT and see how the behavior and interactions of
people "emerge" from those properties in different circumstances.
When you learn the explanations of HPCT, you can apply them to
explain past experience as well as think ahead. Your own
experiences suddenly make more sense to you, and you can manage
and lead better in the future.
Dag Forssell, October 1994
PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP (R) Educational seminars, books, videos.
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP: INSIGHT FOR EFFECTIVE PRACTICE.
Outlining much of the seminar content, this bound collection of
articles published in the Engineering Management Journal plus
working papers explain basic PCT as well as hierarchical PCT.
Control, conflict, and cooperation are illustrated. Consistent
application of Mapping and influencing wants and perceptions to
conflict resolution, performance coaching, team development and
non-manipulative selling makes uniform leadership practice
possible. Insight from HPCT is applied to vision and mission
statements and TQM. Experience, description and explanation are
defined to show how PCT and HPCT turns a "soft" subject into a
"hard" science. Seminar program information is included.
PCT DEMOS and PCTtexts:
DOS program disk and text disk for self-study, teaching,
research, and the Purposeful Leadership seminars.
Self-extracting files with tutorials, explanations, simulations
and sizzling discussion on many subjects from the archives of
CSGnet. Disks may be freely copied.
PCT SUPPORTS TQM.
Presentation to a Deming user group featuring results from
applying HPCT, a demonstration of simple control, role plays ,
the essence of TQM and Deming's fourteen points. (March 1993,
Video, VHS, NTSC, 117 minutes).
RUBBER BAND DEMONSTRATION.
Detailed presentation of the classic rubber band demonstration.
Script included. (July 1993, Video, VHS, NTSC, 63 minutes).
PCT AT AERA 1995.
Hugh Petrie, Bill Powers, Gary Cziko, Ed Ford and Dag Forssell
at American Education Research Association Annual Conference.
(April 1995, Video, VHS, NTSC, 120 minutes).
Purposeful Leadership: Dag Forssell Telephone: (805) 254-1195
23903 Via Flamenco, Valencia, CA 91355-2808 USA Fax:(805) 254-7956
NEW VIEW PUBLICATIONS.
Behavior: The Control of Perception, by William T. Powers. This
book is as controversial today as when it was first published
and its influence continues to grow. Powers has developed the
foundations for a new science of behavior. He begins with the
fact that all living things control parts of their
environments, and then explains how they do it. Behavior is not
an end that is controlled by the environment, or by the
mind-brain; instead, behavior is the means by which living
things control many of their own perceptions.
Introduction to Modern Psychology: The Control Theory View,
Richard J. Robertson and William T. Powers (eds.). Suitable as
the primary text for introductory college-level psychology
courses and for independent study, this textbook provides a
unified approach to the entire field of psychology, from
laboratory studies of animal behavior, through ethology and
studies of human social behavior, to clinical work.
Living Control Systems: Selected papers by William T. Powers. 14
previously published papers, 1960-1988. The control theory
viewpoint has gained many supporters in recent years because of
its rigor, its beauty, and its explanatory abilities. This
viewpoint was first developed by William T. Powers in the
papers in this book. "Powers has looked at the phenomenon of
behavior from a totally new angle, and, sure enough, people
have misunderstood him and they have ignored him, but they have
rarely disagreed with him. This lack of disagreement is rather
surprising, since Powers' ideas about behavior contradict the
fundamental assumptions of scientific psychology. Conventional
psychology views behavior as evoked motor output; Powers argues
that behavior is control of perceptual input. These approaches
to behavior could hardly be more different." --from the
Foreword by Richard Marken.
Living Control Systems, Volume II: Selected papers by William T.
Powers. 22 Previously unpublished papers, 1959-1990. Powers
critiques the theories of mainstream behavioral scientists,
showing how their defects are avoided by applying control
theory instead. He also demonstrates the need for truly
generative models if a genuine science of living control
systems is to be developed.
Mind Readings: Experimental Studies of Purpose by Richard S.
Marken. "This is a book that can show a willing psychologist
how to do a new kind of research. The theme that runs through
all these papers is modeling, the ultimate way of finding out
what a theory really means. Richard Marken is a skilled
modeler, as will be seen. But he has a talent that goes beyond
putting ideas into the form of working simulations, a talent
that can be admired but is hard to imitate. He finds the
essence of a problem and an elegantly simple way to cast it in
the form of a demonstration or an experiment." -from the
Foreword by William T. Powers.
New View: Fred Good Telephone: (919) 942-8491
P.O. Box 3021 Chapel Hill, NC 27515-3021 USA Fax: (919) 942-3760
BRANDT PUBLISHING and ED FORD
Books, video programs and seminars by Edward E. Ford, M.S.W.
Freedom From Stress (1989) explains how the new scientific
thinking of PCT can transform stress. Each of us is a complex
control system with goals, priorities, and standards. Through
this control system we seek to influence the world in order to
perceive the health, job, leisure and relationships we want.
Though we see stress as caused by negative events, people,
feelings, and situations, stress actually results from our own
values and goals when compared with our perceptions. And we
have dominion over our stress. Written in simple,
conversational language with roleplays and simple
illustrations. -Foreword by William T. Powers.
Love Guaranteed; a better marriage in 8 weeks (1987), teaches the
principles of PCT to explain why Ed Ford's techniques are
effective. Ed offers a couple willing to commit to improving
their marriage a money-back guarantee--that's how sure he is he
can teach them to improve their marriage. This book is the
first explaining PCT through discussions of everyday problems
and relationships. It is very easy to read and an excellent
companion to the later, more comprehensive Freedom From Stress.
Love Guaranteed; the Video (1992). Produced by KAET-TV (PBS) in
Phoenix, this 46 minute video (VHS, NTSC) features Ford's
insights into human interaction, and a graphically illustrated
PCT view of relationships and relationship building within the
context of marriage. Ford offers clear, understandable and
specific steps that couples can take immediately to renew and
strengthen their relationships with one another utilizing his
"quality time" technique.
Discipline for Home and School (1994). This book documents a
practical, easy-to-use program that teaches school personnel
and parents how to deal effectively with children. Based on
PCT, this program does not teach a coercive approach to
discipline. Rather, it deals with children as living control
systems, always respecting their choices. Disruptive children
are taught how to recognize and consider their own choices so
that they can achieve personal satisfaction--get what they
really want, while at the same time respecting the rights of
others in the community in which they live.
Parent/teacher seminars by Ed Ford & Associates. For curriculum,
see book above. For more information, call Ed Ford directly.
Brandt Publishing: Edward E. Ford Telephone & Fax: (602) 991-4860
10209 North 56th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85253-1130 USA
PURPOSEFUL BEHAVIOR: THE CONTROL THEORY APPROACH
American Behavioral Scientist, 34(1), (1990). Richard S. Marken,
This issue of ABS is dedicated to 11 papers on PCT. It begins with
an introduction by Marken, "A Science of Purpose," which describes
the nature of purposive behavior and the essential features of the
model that explains this phenomenon.
METHODOLOGY: Phil Runkel in "Research Method for Control Theory"
explains how to study purposeful behavior. Runkel describes by
example how to carry out "the test for controlled variables" in
both laboratory and everyday interactions with purposeful
systems. The pitfalls of basing conclusions about individual
behavior on statistical generalization are illustrated by
Powers "Control theory and statistical generalization" in a
simulation of the effects of rewards on behavior.
ATTENTION AND LEARNING: Ray Pavloski and his students, in
"Reorganization," describe experimental tests of what happens
while people learn to carry out a purpose. Wayne Hershberger in
"Control Theory and Learning" describes the control theory
perspective on two kinds of learning --instrumental and
classical conditioning. Development: Frans and Hedwig Plooij
describe their observations of the development of levels of
control capability in chimpanzee and human infants in
"Developmental Transitions as Successive Reorganizations of a
SOCIAL BEHAVIOR: In "Purposive Collective Action," Clark McPhail
and Chuck Tucker suggest how many control systems, acting
together, can manage to reach a common purpose. Tom Bourbon
describes how cooperation can result from independent
purposeful behavior of several individuals in "Invitation to
ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR: Bill Williams describes the application of
control theory to purposeful economic behavior in "The Giffen
Effect." He shows how people can violate the "law of demand"
(by increasing consumption of a product whose price increases)
without violating their nature as purposeful systems.
CLINICAL: David Goldstein in "Clinical Usages of Control Theory"
discusses how he has used control theory in his own clinical
CONTROL THEORY CONCEPTS: Ed Ford points out some PCT concepts that
can be difficult to understand because they differ from what is
taught by conventional theories.
Journal Marketing, Sage Publications Phone orders: (805) 499-0721
2455 Teller Rd, Newbury Park, CA 91320 USA Fax: (805) 499-0871
Ask for: American Behavioral Scientist, Volume 34, Number 1
Sept/Oct 1990 Stock number 201238, Richard S. Marken, Editor.
Priced lower for individuals than for institutions.
Bourbon, WT, KE Copeland, VR Dyer, WK Harman & BL Mosely (1990).
On the accuracy and reliability of predictions by
control-system theory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol 71,
1990, 1331-1338. The first of a 20-year series demonstrating
the long-term reliability and stability of predictions
generated by the PCT model.
Cziko, Gary A., "Purposeful Behavior as the Control of Perception:
Implications for Educational Research." Educational Researcher,
21:9, (Nov. 92), pp.10-18; 25-27. (Back issue $9) Publication
office: Washington DC. (202) 223-9485.
Gibbons, Hugh., The Death of Jeffrey Stapleton: Exploring the Way
Lawyers Think. (1990, 197 pages). Using PCT to explain how
lawyers think. Send $10 to Hugh Gibbons, Professor, Franklin
Pierce Law Center, Concord, NH, 03301.
McClelland, Kent., "Perceptual Control and Social Power."
Sociological Perspectives, (24 pages. December 1994). Also "On
Cooperatively Controlled Perceptions and Social order"
Available from the author. For both, send $5 to: Kent
McClelland, Professor Dept. of Sociology, Grinnell College,
Grinnell, IA, 50112.
McPhail, Clark., The Myth of the Madding Crowd (1990). Introduces
PCT to explain group behavior. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
(Paperback $24.95, Clothbound $47.95). Phone: (914) 747-0110
McPhail, Clark., William T. Powers, and Charles W. Tucker,
"Simulating Individual and Collective Action in Temporary
Gatherings." Computer simulation of control systems in groups.
Social Science Computer Review, 10:1, (1992) pp. 1-28. Duke
University Press: Box 90660, Durham, NC. (919) 687-3600.
Powers, William T., The nature of robots:
1 Defining behavior BYTE 4(6), June 1979, p132-144, 7 pages.
2 Simulated control system, BYTE 4(7), July, 134-152, 12p.
3 A closer look at human behavior, BYTE 4(8), Aug, 94-116, 16p.
4 Looking for controlled variables, BYTE 4(8), Sep, 96-112,
Richardson, George P., Feedback Thought in Social Science and
Systems Theory (1991). Historical review of systems thinking,
including PCT. (Paperback $19.95) ISBN 0-8122-1332-7 University
of Pennsylvania Press. (800) 445-9880.
Runkel, Philip J., Casting Nets and Testing Specimens (1990). When
statistics are appropriate; when functional models are
required. With explanation of PCT. New York: Praeger.
(Clothbound, $45) Order code: C3533 Praeger Publishers, P.O.
Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881 Phone: (800) 225-5800, (203)
226-3571. Fax (203) 222-1502.
CONTROL SYSTEMS GROUP
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CSG ANNUAL CONFERENCE VIDEO TAPES: 1993, 1994, 1995.
Contact Dag Forssell.