Systems psychology

Systems psychology

Systems psychology is a branch of both theoretical psychology and applied psychology that studies human behaviour and experience in complex systems. It is inspired by systems theory and systems thinking, and based on the theoretical work of Roger Barker, Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana and others.[1] Groups and individuals are considered as systems in homeostasis. Alternative terms here are "systemic psychology", "systems behavior", and "systems-based psychology".


  • Types of systems psychology 1
  • Related fields 2
    • Ergonomics 2.1
    • Family systems therapy 2.2
    • Organizational psychology 2.3
    • Perceptual control theory 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Types of systems psychology

In the scientific literature different kind of systems psychology have been mentioned:

Applied systems psychology
In the 1970s the term applied systems psychology was being used as a specialism directly related to engineering psychology and human factor.[2][3]
Cognitive systems theory
Cognitive systems psychology is a part of cognitive psychology and like existential psychology, attempts to dissolve the barrier between conscious and the unconscious mind.[4]
Concrete systems psychology
Concrete systems psychology is the study of human systems across the varied biological contexts and situations of everyday life.[5][6][7]
Contract-systems psychology
Contract-systems psychology is about the human systems actualization through participative organizations.[8]
Family systems psychology
Family systems psychology is a more general name for the subfield of family therapists. E.g. Murray Bowen, Michael E. Kerr, and Baard[9] and researchers have begun to theoretize a psychology of the family as a system.[10]
Organismic-systems psychology
Through the application of organismic-systems biology to human behavior [11]

Related fields


Ergonomics, also called "human factors", is the application of scientific information concerning objects, systems and environment for human use (definition adopted by the International Ergonomics Association in 2007). Ergonomics is commonly described as the way companies design tasks and work areas to maximize the efficiency and quality of their employees’ work. However, ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed.

Equipment design is intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. The field is also called biotechnology, human engineering, and human factors engineering. Ergonomic research is primarily performed by ergonomists who study human capabilities in relationship to their work demands. Information derived from ergonomists contributes to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people.

Family systems therapy

Family systems therapy, also referred to as "family therapy" and "couple and family therapy", is a branch of psychotherapy related to relationship counseling that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view the family as a system, family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. As such, family problems have been seen to arise as an emergent property of systemic interactions, rather than to be blamed on individual members. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are the most specifically trained in this type of psychotherapy.

Organizational psychology

Industrial and organizational psychology also known as "work psychology", "occupational psychology" or "personnel psychology" concerns the application of organizational behavior, and job and family issues.

Perceptual control theory

Perceptual control theory (PCT) is a psychological theory of animal and setpoint of the controller.[12] PCT also applies to nonliving autonomic systems.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Jeanne M. Plas (1986) Systems psychology in the schools. p.xvi
  2. ^ Kenyon B. De Greene, Earl A. Alluisi (1970), Systems Psychology, McGraw-Hill. p.44
  3. ^ Ronald John Beishon, Geoff Peters (1976) Systems behaviour. p.144
  4. ^ David Parrish (2006), "Nothing I See Means Anything: Quantum Questions, Quantum Answers", p.29
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Marcia Guttentag and Elmer L Struening (1975), Handbook of Evaluation Research. Sage. ISBN 0-8039-0429-0. page 200.
  9. ^ Michael B. Goodman (1998), Corporate Communications for Executives, SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-3761-2. Page 72.
  10. ^ Sara E. Cooper (2004), The Ties That Bind: Questioning Family Dynamics and Family Discourse, University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2649-1. Page 13.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Engineering control theory also makes use of feedforward, predictive control, and other functions that are not required to model the behavior of living organisms.
  13. ^ For an introduction, see the Byte articles on robotics and the article on the origins of purpose in this collection.

Further reading

  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1968), Organismic Psychology and System Theory, Worcester, Clark University Press.
  • Brennan (1994), History and Systems Psychology, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-182668-9
  • Molly Young Brown, Psychosynthesis – A “Systems” Psychology?,
  • Kenyon B. De Greene, Earl A. Alluisi (1970), Systems Psychology, McGraw-Hill.
  • W. Huitt (2003), "A systems model of human behavior", in: Educational Psychology Interactive, Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.
  • Jon Mills (2000), "Dialectical Psychoanalysis: Toward Process Psychology", in: Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 23(3), 20-54.
  • Alexander Zelitchenko (2009), "Is 'Mind-Body-Environment' Closed or Open System?" Preprint.
  • Linda E. Olds (1992), Metaphors of Interrelatedness: Toward a Systems Theory of Psychology, SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-1011-0
  • Jeanne M. Plas (1986), Systems Psychology in the Schools, Pergamon Press ISBN 0-08-033144-0
  • David E. Roy (2000), Toward a Process Psychology: A Model of Integration. Fresno, CA, Adobe Creations Press, 2000
  • David E. Roy (2005), Process Psychology and the Process of Psychology Or, Developing a Psychology of Integration While Leaving Home, Seminar paper, 2005.
  • Wolfgang Tschacher and Jean-Pierre Dauwalder (2003) (eds.), The Dynamical Systems Approach to Cognition: Concepts and Empirical Paradigims Based on Self-Organization, Embodiment, and Coordination Dynamics, World Scientific. ISBN 981-238-610-6.
  • W. T. Singleton (1989), The Mind at Work: Psychological Ergonomics, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26579-7.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Association for Process Psychology