- Paperback: 180 pages
- Publisher: Benchmark Pubns Inc (August 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0964712156
- ISBN-13: 978-0964712157
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Making Sense of Behavior: The Meaning of Control
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" Everyone who has read this book and takes these ideas to heart has been strongly influenced by it." -- Ray Jackson, Director of LeadershipEducation, Unisys University Leadership School
"Here, finally, is a conceptual model of a human that acts like a human." -- Sociology Professor Kent McClelland, Ph.D., Grinnell College
"The great thing a researcher can do with Perceptual Control Theory...is to return to the fundamental faith of science." -- Philip J. Runkel, Professor Emeritus, Education and Psychology, University of Oregon
About the Author
Mr. Powers' interest in control theory began when he was a junior medical physicist at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital in Chicago during the early 1950s. Since then he has carried on dual careers; an official one as a designer of electronic systems for science, medicine, and commerce, and an unofficial one as an explorer of the organization of living systems.
Now retired with his wife Mary in Durango, Colorado, he continues his work on living systems through a busy discussion group on the internet, through designing computer models of living control systems, and through meetings and conferences on his favorite subject.
He has published numerous articles in scientific and technical journals as well as authoring four books currently in print. With Richard J. Robertson, Professor of Psychology, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, an "early adopter" of PCT, he co-edited the first introductory college text* on Perceptual Control Theory, which is being adopted by increasing number of universities in the USA and abroad.
Top customer reviews
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"... Perceptual Control Theory brings us mot merely a few unusual notions, not merely a "viewpoint," but a sea-change, a paradigm shift." (p. vii)
I found this claim quite inspiring, waiting to find what amazing wall-breaking insights the author had coming in the book. What a disappointment it was to read the rest of the book. The author claims that control was ignored by behaviorism and early cognitive science (in the 1960ies) because the circular causality involved in control was contrary to the (then) current linear understanding of cause and effect. This reasoning might be correct, but the author never presents any recent research done within psychology which have importance for control theory. The author seems to think that mainstream psychology still involves behaviorism and S-R based cognitive psychology as no other references to works done after 1960 is presented (in fact, the book has no references at all!).
The author's seemingly ignorance of current developments within psychology and related fields also puts his arguments in a new light. If these ideas had been presented in 1962 it would probably have had some new and quite refreshing ideas, but in 1998 the ideas of circular causality, the importance of perception and action, internal comparator modules and control systems are old news. Developments in related fields such as Ecological psychology (e.g. Gibson (1979) The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception), Dynamic Systems Theory (Thelen & Smith (1995) A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action) and Movement Science (Latash & Turvey (1996) Dexterity and its Development) all present ideas and research developments which are newer, fresher and more to the point than the ones presented in 'Making Sense of Behavior'. If the ideas in 'Making Sense of Behavior' involves a paradigm shift or a scientific revolution, it is one which happened several decades ago.
It is, on the other hand, a book which attempt to take Control seriously, which is a good thing, only too bad the author does not include or discuss research from other traditions, or at least points to connections to other fields of research. But if he had done that, it would be clear that there is nothing new in this book. The only reason it did not get one star is because it takes serious the issue of circular causality and control (which have been mainly ignored by mainstream cognitive science).
and draw further upon such Somatics sources as Thomas Hanna, Linda Hartley, Frank Wildman (Feldenkraisian), Bersin, Bersin & Reese ["Relaxercise"] - and a whole lot more both Individually Human Developmental and Civilisation-Improveing; see some such ion lists via [...]
John SD Miles.
In his book Powers does what other theorists and theories don't, namely, he gives us an explanation of the human phenomenon that is technically satisfying and, at the same time, an explanation that resonates with our deeply held notions about ourselves. Who won't like this book? The same pompous airbags who have seen fit to saddle us all with one empty-headed theory after another about the nature of human beings and their behavior. The truth, like quality and beauty, is something we all know when we see it. You'll recognize the truth in Powers' book.
Powers is no intellectual slouch. An engineer by training and a scientist by calling, his approach is as intellectually demanding and as scientifically rigorous as any to be found. Nor is his theory of recent or easy vintage. He has been hard at work developing it for almost half a century. He first articulated it in a 1973 book titled Behavior: The Control of Perception and he has elaborated it in various papers since then.
Powers' central thesis is simple enough: All we know of our world we know through our perceptions. We act, then, not to control the world but to control our perceptions of it. Hence, behavior as the control of perception. Best of all, Powers provides a simple, elegant experiment requiring nothing more than two rubber bands and two people that we can use to test his theory. It is difficult to argue with.
So what? What are the practical implications of Powers' theory? Well, for one thing, the transactions between employer and employee need to be negotiated instead of commanded or demanded. If that seems obvious, consider this: for the most part, so do the transactions between parent - or teacher - and child. Remember, we are - all of us - "autonomous control systems," even the children among us. For another, Powers offers an interesting if not novel approach to conflict resolution, namely, taking it "up a level." (I leave to the readers of Powers' book the fun of discovering of what that means.) Finally, in the midst of all this autonomy is the unavoidable conclusion that we are inescapably accountable for our own behavior. (Management will both love and hate that one.)
The bottom line of Powers' message is plain and profound: I am in control of me. That's all there is and that's enough. Moreover, the inevitable consequence of attempting to control others is conflict.
But why take my word for it? Buy it, read it and then you tell me what you think. Send me an e-mail and I'll post your reviews on my web site. email@example.com.