General Relativity Theory


GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY. The Austrian-born biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972) is considered widely to be the father of general systems theory, which he viewed comprehensively as "a science of science." Other precursors of general systems theory include the development of Gestalt psychology, and development of the "holistic" approach in psychology. The goal of general systems theory is to find models that are applicable across many diverse disciplines such as agriculture, metallurgy, music, business, psychology, sociology, and others (cf., periodic attempts to establish a unity of science orientation across disciplines). One of the most popular of such general models is the open versus closed system model where each system may be seen in terms of degree of "open-ness/closedness," and in terms of how self-sufficient or independent it is regarding outside influences. Diverse examples of such systems are: an eddy in a stream (open system); the solar system (closed system); an ant's behavior (closed system); a well-adjusted person (open system); learning theory in psychology (a limited, or open-closed, system), and personality psychology (a unisystem centering on the concepts of self-consistency, integrity, and balance). Other system models in psychology include the concepts of homeostasis - the maintenance of constancy in internal functioning; self-concept - constancy/consistency of personality; and stress - changes in personality structure as a result of psychological stress that are similar to changes in physiological structure as a result of biological stress. Other concepts in general systems theory include entropy (degree of disorder of a closed system), negative entropy (information in information theory), feedback (return of part of a system's output to its input), adaptation (temporary reduction in the responsiveness of a sensory receptor as a result of continuous stimulation), and equifi-nality (difficulty in determining a causative process from the shape of a land form alone). Distinctions are made between the terms systems, general systems, and systems analysis where systems applies to a model within a discipline (such as a communication system, a governmental system, an administrative system, etc.), general systems refers to common models that are incorporated into two or more fields, and systems analysis refers to the analysis of the structure of specific systems (cf., functional systems theory - states that given an intact organism, interactions with its environment result in adjustments in the individual's physiological or internal processes due to the influence of the invariant environment; across the evolutionary period of organisms, such adjustments become more complex). General systems theory tends to de-emphasize the tenets of elementarism and reductionism, which ignore the significance of "wholes" or "systems" (cf., K. Lewin's field theory, which recognizes the importance of holistic, organismic, and field-emergent influences when analyzing human behavior). Any failures in the wide acceptance and application of general systems theory may be connected to some of the theory's shortcomings: it doesn't have a formulation of the system that is acceptable to a majority of investigators, it hasn't revealed an organizing factor where the transfer into the system of the chaos of a great number of components - into an organized multitude - has occurred, and the system is portrayed as a homogeneous entity without any "operational architectonics" that would permit the evaluation of the system. However, it has been proposed recently (e.g., Schwartz, 1991) that concepts and methods from systems theory provide a powerful integrative tool for researchers and clinicians in behavioral medi cine. For example, the risk-factor interaction hypothesis is a special case of the biobehav-ioral interaction hypothesis, a fundamental conjecture in behavioral medicine; the hypothesis is that biological and psychosocial variables are not merely additive classes of factors that contribute independently to health and illness, but they may interact with each other ("synergistically") and, therefore, act interdependently; the biobehavioral interaction hypothesis, in turn, is a special case of what may be called the generic interaction hypothesis, which is a fundamental hypothesis in general systems theory in general, and living systems theory in particular (cf., Miller, 1978). See also ADAPTATION, PRINCIPLES/LAWS OF; CHAOS THEO-RY; CONTROL/SYSTEMS THEORY; GESTALT THEORY/LAWS; INFORMATION/ INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; LEARNING THEORIES/LAWS; LEWIN'S FIELD THEORY; ORGANIZATIONAL/INDUSTRIAL/SYSTEMS THEORY; SELF-CONCEPT THEORY; SELYE'S THEORY/ MODEL OF STRESS. REFERENCES

Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of topological and vectoral psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill. Neurath, O., Carnap, R., & Morris, C. (Eds.)

(1938). International encyclopedia of unified science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lecky, P. (1945). Self-consistency: A theory of personality. Garden City, NY: Dou-bleday/Anchor. Bertalanffy, L. von (1950a). An outline of general systems theory. British Journal of Philosophy and Science, 1, 134-165.

Bertalanffy, L. von (1950b). The theory of open systems in physics and biology. Science, 111, 23-29. Stagner, R. (1951). Homeostasis as a unifying concept in personality theory. Psychological Review, 58, 5-17. Bertalanffy, L. von (1955). General systems theory. Main Currents in Modern Thought, 11, 75-83. Bertalanffy, L. von (1968). General systems theory. New York: Braziller.

York: McGraw-Hill. Schwartz, G. E. (1991). Addition versus interaction hypothesis: The $64,000 question. Psychological Inquiry, 2, 262-263.

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

The Ultimate Guide To Overcoming Fear And Getting Breakthroughs. Fear is without doubt among the strongest and most influential emotional responses we have, and it may act as both a protective and destructive force depending upon the situation.

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