Tote Modelhypothesis

American psychologists George A. Miller (1920- ), and Eugene H. Galanter (1924- ), and the Austrian-born American psychologist Karl H. Pribram (1919- ) describe the TOTE model/ hypothesis (an acronym for the sequence: Test-Operate-Test-Exit) that is a postulated basic unit of planned, sensorimotor behavior. This hypothetical mechanism reacts to a stimulus by testing it for incongruity, by operating to remove any incongruity, and then testing it again, and so on indefinitely until the incongruity is eliminated and then, at that time, exiting from the feedback loop. The TOTE is intended to be a conceptual alternative to the historical reflex arc notion (cf., Dewey, 1896), and to stimulus-response asso-ciationism, whereby the feedback loop of TOTE is the basic element of behavior rather than the reflex arc itself; in this alternative, the reflex arc is considered to be only one of the many possible manifestations or particularities of the larger TOTE pattern. The feedback loop of the TOTE model allows energy to flow through the system as well as information/control that may be realized at the cognitive level. A simple example of TOTE is the setting of a thermostat to control the temperature of a room, where setting it initially too high ("test") leads to a room that feels too warm, then setting it lower ("operate") and finding the room to feel comfortable ("test"), and then leaving the thermostat at that setting ("exit"). TOTE was advanced as a model of behavior in which actions to be taken are based on plans modified by feedback regarding actions already taken, which is a funda-

mental aspect borrowed from the field of cybernetics (meaning "steersman") - developed largely by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) - where control mechanisms and their associated communications systems are studied and applied, in particular those systems involving feedback of information to mechanisms concerning its activities. See also ASSOCIATION, LAWS/PRIN-CIPLES OF; CONTROL/SYSTEMS THEORY; CYBERNETIC THEORY; INFORMA


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