Perceptual Control Theory

Perceptual Control Theory

Perceptual control theory (PCT) is a model of behavior based on the principles of negative feedback, but differing in important respects from engineering control theory. Results of PCT experiments have demonstrated that an organism controls neither its own behavior, nor external environmental variables, but rather its own perceptions. Actions are not controlled, they are varied so as to cancel the effects that unpredictable environmental disturbances would otherwise have on controlled perceptions. According to the standard catch-phrase of the field, "behavior is the control of perception". PCT demonstrates circular causation in a negative feedback loop closed through the environment. This fundamentally contradicts the classical notion of linear causation of behavior by stimuli, in which environmental stimuli are thought to cause behavioral responses, mediated (according to Cognitive Psychology) by intervening cognitive processes.

Numerous computer simulations of specific behavioral situations demonstrate its efficacy, with extremely high correlations to observational data (0.95 or better), such as are routinely expected in physics and chemistry. While the adoption of PCT in the scientific community has not been widespread, it has been applied not only in experimental psychology and neuroscience, but also in sociology, linguistics, and a number of other fields, and has led to a method of psychotherapy called the Method of Levels.

Read more about Perceptual Control Theory:  The Place of Purpose (intention) and Causation in Psychology, History, Example, The Methodology of Modeling, and PCT As Model, Mathematics of PCT, Distinctions From Engineering Control Theory, A Hierarchy of Control, Reorganization in Evolution, Development, and Learning, Conflict, PCT and Psychotherapy: The Method of Levels (MOL), Current Situation and Prospects

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